There are good surprises and there are bad surprises, and there are some that are hard to know which they are.  I think I got one of those Wednesday.  About 10:30 in the morning the door bell rang.  That is an unusual occurrence in our neighborhood.  Neighbors do not make a habit of dropping in.  Door to door sales people are supposed to be strictly limited.  And it is still too early for politicians to make the rounds for next fall’s election.

When I opened the door, there was a brightly colored door hanger from the utility company.  In recent months we have had some water issues, but they have been resolved.  I thought perhaps it was a customer satisfaction response card.  But when I looked closer, I discovered it was a final notice about failure to pay our bill.  That was a complete surprise to me, since we were always prompt in our payments.  But when I checked my records, I found that I had not gotten a bill since October.

So I knew I would have to find out what happened.  That afternoon, I drove to the main office and brought the card with me.  The clerk was helpful and after some failed attempts, was able to bring up the account.  She said the bills had been sent to another address, which was where a family member had been living until October.  When she moved into her new house, somehow our bills got rerouted to her old address.  Of course the new occupant had no idea whose bill it was and so probably discarded it.

Fortunately, the weather had been mild in November and December, so the unpaid amount was not very big.  I got the bill paid and the address corrected and now in February, we should start getting our regular billing again.

Finding out you have an unpaid bill can be troubling.  But finding out someone else paid your bill for you can be wonderful.  That happened to another relative many years ago.  When he contacted his school about his unpaid student loan, he was informed that an anonymous benefactor had paid the bill for him.  We have a pretty good idea who did it, but it was still a great relief.

Someone paid a bill for all of us, yet we seldom think about it.  The Bible tells us in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Because of our sins, we deserved death.  It was the just reward for our selfishness and failure to live a perfect life.  But God paid that debt. “Jesus paid it all” is an old familiar hymn, but it is also an eternal truth.  We have life because someone else paid for it.  Jesus, in love, took our place and gave us the surprise of a lifetime.

There are millions of people who are buying lottery tickets, hoping for a wonderful surprise.  I faithfully enter the Publishers Clearing House drawing and the HGTV sweepstakes, hoping to get a big surprise.  Cities like Las Vegas are built on the hope people have of getting great wealth.  Yet we have already won the lottery.  We have already won the sweepstakes.  We have already won the grand prize.

And the reward is to live forever in the presence of eternal Love.  To live in the home that is beyond imagination. And yet, we do not even realize how blessed we are.  God loves us and wants us to live forever in God’s presence. That is the best news, the best surprise we could ever experience.  Surprise!  You won!


About edwardsoule

The Rev. Dr. Edward A. Soule is now the pastor of Big Cove Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Brownsboro, AL. He retired as a United Methodist pastor who served 28 years as a minister in churches around the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. Before that, he was in Christian radio for 10 years and was a Baptist minister for two years. Over the years, Ed has also been a teacher in public schools, a private school principal, and taught at a Bible college. He has a B.A. from Bethel University, St. Paul, MN; a M. Div. from Bethel Theological Seminary; and a D. Min. from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH. Ed is now widowed. He had been married to Deborah (Mendelson) for 38 years. She was the executive director of Partnership for a Drug Free Community. He currently resides in the Hampton Cove community of Huntsville, AL, where Ed enjoys walking with their dog, Churchill, daily, running and keeping up the landscaping. "Dr. Edward" is available to speak to churches and other groups in the north Alabama/southern Tennessee area. Contact through this blog or directly at
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