The coast was clear – mom was distracted and it was time for “Operation: Find the Presents”. We knew where she hid them and knew we had a few minutes to sneak a quick peek.
But as soon as I saw those beautiful little dolls with hand-crocheted Strawberry Shortcake outfits, I was instantly filled with regret. I had just ruined my own Christmas! There would be no anticipation and no surprise this year – at least in what I was getting from my parents. Thankfully, though, I still had no idea what Santa was bringing 😉
It’s every little kid’s dream – waking up on Christmas morning to an array of gifts, spilling out from beneath the Christmas tree. Sitting there, for what seems like an eternity, staring and wondering, “Which ones are for me?” and “Did I get the things on my list?” Okay, maybe it’s not just the kids.
As parents we know that, even though it would save us hours of blood, sweat, and tears to just set the presents out, unwrapped for all to see, the joy of Christmas is found in the surprise. We wrap the gifts because it’s way more fun to watch the eager anticipation on our children’s faces, and the all-out excitement as they tear into the package, having no idea what it contains.
As the givers of those gifts we have almost as much anticipation as the receivers do. We know our kids well and have (or at least we hope we have) picked out what they will certainly think is the BEST.GIFT.EVER! And even if they don’t really understand it at first, we trust each gift will at least be something they appreciate in the future.
In Psalm 40:5, David writes:
“You have multiplied, O LORD, my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.”
Throughout the span of my almost thirty-eight years (yikes!), my Heavenly Father has given me millions and millions of gifts. I could never even come close to numbering His every thought toward me and His hand at work in every circumstance of my life up to this point.
And I’m so thankful that every single one of them has been a surprise. I’m so glad that my Father hasn’t felt the need to ask me what I want before making His decisions. He knows me better than I know myself and He “knows what [I] need before [I] ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8) Some of these surprises may have confused me in the moment, but in the end they have been exactly what I needed.
The amazing thing is that, for a child of God, every morning can be Christmas morning! Every day, our good, good Father, who delights in giving His children good, good gifts, is lining our trees with packages of His “wondrous deeds” and “thoughts toward us”.
And like Christmas morning, the secret is in the surprise. Even though it sounds at first like it would be better to just take a peek and know God’s plans ahead of time – that would only cause the anticipation and wonder to sneak right out of our lives.
I’m not a morning person (I will certainly not be jumping for joy with my kids when they wake me up early on Friday!), but I have learned that getting out of bed every day is much easier when I’m looking ahead and wondering, “What’s God gonna do today?” The more I anticipate His hand at work in my life, the more I’ll see His hand at work – and the more I’ll be left in awe of His goodness toward me.