Years ago, my husband came up with a killer system for keeping the gifts a surprise until Christmas morning.
This brilliant yet simple plan enables us to wrap the gifts as we get them and keep them under the tree throughout Christmas rather than store them in closets or shelves in the garage. So on snowy, late December mornings, you can usually find my kids on the floor gifts sprawled around them while they sift and shake the boxes not only attempting a guess at what’s in them, but who they’re for. Their hair sticks up every which way and they munch on sugar cookies (because I have few rules at Christmastime and sugar cookies at breakfast come in second only to pie).
And we have a list. A master list. For a decade or more, our kids tried to figure out the plan. Finally, as our oldest were nearing college-age and smarter than us in most school subjects, they figured it out. But the brilliance of this plan lies in this: they may know how the system works but they still won’t find out what’s in those boxes or who-gets-what until it’s revealed on Christmas morning.
“Who’s number 34?”
“Whos’ number 8?”
“Maybe girls get even numbers and boys get the odd numbers,” one would guess, “No, that wouldn’t work because there are two girls and two boys….”
“Maybe we each get a block of numbers, like 1-20 belong to Bella, 21-40 belongs to Zach….”
And my husband giggles a lot at Christmas time because this system keeps the mystery going all through the season. Truth is, we have too much fun. We love the opportunity to find the gifts that surprise them. We love tokens of love. We know it’s not about the presents or the wrapping or the money spent or not spent. We delight in the giving and the mystery and the fun of the whole process.
But sometimes the suspense is near painful for little kids. And all that “better watch out, better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why” pressure to behave well until the day arrives is almost too much to handle.
I can relate.
Sometimes I wrestle with God’s possession of knowledge and how it seems unfair that he knows things I don’t. I think he’s withholding or toying with me.
Do we slip our fingers under the wrapping of his good gifts and try to peek because we don’t trust him? Do we doubt his ability to really know everything? While we say, like good Christians do that God is omniscient, can we truly trust him on that count? Or is our fear of not knowing, of being out of the loop and out of control, more than what we can bear?
So many times when facing trials I might say, “If I only knew what I’m supposed to do, I’d do it!” or, “If I only knew the outcome of this situation, I’d be okay, I’d adjust!” Why doesn’t God reveal it all to us? Does he not trust us with the full knowledge? Why all these centuries of prophecy and scholarly guessing?
But there are a few realities about God that we need to accept (or choose to reject). And in the accepting, we are accepting a wrapped gift that has everyone’s name on it. We may not understand the “why” or the timing of it, but can we accept the goodness of God in the gifts he gives? Consider these truths:
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” (James 1:17-18)
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.” (Colossians 1:15-23)
“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 3:6)
There is so much to discover about the person and plan of God but it all comes down to one central figure and one point in time: Jesus Christ and his birth. The gift of the incarnation was the game-changing “mystery reveal” that brought the goodness and power to all humanity in full force. Through Christ we have salvation from the hold of sin. Through Christ we receive the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live in this veiled life until the day we, with clarity of vision, see our Creator. Through Christ we can live lives of value and purpose and meaning and love. Through Christ we can become generous gospel givers.
And while advent is the celebration of waiting for Jesus’ birth, it’s also the waiting for his return. In the meantime, lets keep looking for opportunities to spot God at work and to join him, sharing the gift that is Christmas, all the year through.
Today I am learning to open the gift of the mystery of Jesus, that he is child, king, creator, redeemer, suffering on the cross and preparing a place for me for eternity. Sometimes the process of living here is difficult, filled with gifts we didn’t ask for and timing we don’t like. I am trying to be open handed in my receiving and in my giving. Bless you today,
Every good & perfect printable pdf.