News outlets have been speculating about the October surprise for weeks now. I suppose that traditionally politicians and parties save up their most damning information against their opponents for the weeks before an election in order to sway the vote in their favor. Releasing this too soon and people will forget. Release it too late and many will have already made up their minds or voted early. Thus, the October surprise.
So I waited. But unless it happens soon I don’t think we’ll have such an October surprise this year from any side. Candidates spending millions to create ads criticizing their opponents without regard to facts? No surprise. Billionaires pouring millions into races in states in which they have no vested interest other than pushing their personal agendas and causes? No surprise. Suppression of news by cable and social media providers? No surprise. Time-released attacks on influential individuals? No surprise.
Yet I was surprised in other ways this October. On my way home one day I decided to take a shortcut through the neighborhood just down the street from mine. I turned the corner to be overcome by sunlight illuminating the most beautiful row of red maples I’d ever seen. So spectacular was this October afternoon sight that I coerced my husband into going back with me a few days later so I could get a photo before the leaves fell. Still a wow.
Watering my small front gardens one morning, my watering pot and my gaze both pointing down, I saw a bit of pink out of the corner of my eye. Looking more closely I realized it was a rosebud. Then I saw more rosebuds. It was October, yet my rose bush was optimistically planning to bloom again—and within a week it did! What a lovely surprise.
My spirit was surprised this month too. My pastor recommended a book by author Brant Hansen titled Unoffendable. So strongly did he recommend it that he developed a whole sermon series based on it. Hmmph, I thought. What if I want to be offended? After all, there are so many things in the world right now that I find offensive! Don’t I deserve to be offended? To be hurt and angry even? Hmmph. Then I read the book. Chapter by chapter I felt a shift in my spirit. A shift from blame to forgiveness, from discouragement to hope, from anxiety to peace, from anger to love. I hope this October surprise outlives the month.
And so we trust. We pray. We vote. Will we be surprised in bad ways as well as good? No doubt. But through it all we lean on the One who is never surprised by anything. You remember singing about Him, don’t you? He has the whole world in His hands.