Musings About… Unexpected Surprises

It was going to be just another call—nothing new. I was pretty sure, after working for four years as a Paramedic, I had seen it all. For someone new, the message that squawked out of our pager, it would cause adrenaline to race through the body, invading practically every cell in the body, promoting a heightened state of anticipation mixed in with a fair share of excitement. “948, Code 2 traffic. Domestic assault…Lincoln Street.”

First off, let me explain that jargon. I was riding on the EMS unit 948. Code 2 traffic meant that it was an emergency response—lights, sirens, weaving in and out of traffic—the whole works. The dispatcher then gave us a hint of what to expect—somebody got mad at their brother or cousin and started fighting. This was a normal call, especially for Lincoln Street. Nothing good ever happened on Lincoln Street. But as I said, by this time, I had seen it all. Nothing could surprise me.

My partner and I arrived on the scene to see the police already there, talking with witnesses and getting their reports together. In the midst of all of them was a young man lying on his back, not moving a bit. He could have appeared to be merely sleeping, if it hadn’t been for the knife buried to the hilt in the center of his forehead. Sorry if this is too graphic, but it leads to a point. This sight actually caused me to pause for just a fraction of a second, raise one eyebrow and mutter to myself, “Hmmh; this is new.” But I knew what I needed to do. I needed to quickly check for signs of life or, in this case, the absence thereof. So, I reached down, felt of his wrist and did not detect a pulse. My partner began unbuttoning his shirt so we could get an ECG strip to verify his demise. As she did so, I bent over to check the status of his pupils, another indication of life. Just as I lowered my face towards his, I looked back at my partner to check on what she was doing and then brought my gaze back up to the victim’s eyes. But it was my eyes that went blank. I found myself peering into a gaze that was full and wide—and I had not opened his eyes! Before I could even catch my breath, I heard the victim, who up until this moment had all the appearance of being dead, exclaim, “Ain’t this something?” At that point, I heard a loud and frantic scream, much like that of a young girl who had just seen a monster…AAAHHH!!!!!

I did not have to look around to try to figure out who was uttering the ear-splitting yell of fright, because I knew—it was me! After regaining our composure and color, we proceeded to treat our patient and transport him the E.D. at the hospital. The intrusion of the knife had penetrated the skull, but almost with surgical precision intruded right down the middle of the two halves of the brain, causing very little damage to this vital organ. It was this call that forever engrained itself into my psyche—things aren’t always as they seem; there will always be unexpected surprises.

A couple millennia ago, there were some people who thought they had everything figured out. They, too, had seen it all. Numerous people had emerged to claim they had special power to heal or speak on behalf of God. But then a certain man from Nazareth appeared, and a myriad of people claimed that he was special, that he was indeed the one for which they had been waiting. But from Nazareth? Scripture records one skeptic asking, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1.46 NIV) Nazareth was known to be a place of trouble, and not a place from where one would expect a Saviour to come.

But, isn’t that how God seems to work? It seems God works best in out-of-the-ordinary places and through people that will utterly surprise us. Although I am often caught off-guard, I have come to relish those moments where God works in ways I could not have expected. God is still great at surprising us.