I used to date a wonderful woman who I loved. At Christmas we would get each other gifts, and so one year she was surprised when I put one giant box wrapped in Christmas paper under her parents’ Christmas tree. That’s it: nothing else but a giant box. The days before Christmas, she and her sister spent many a conversation wondering what it was. I even noticed a small edge of the wrapping paper torn away.
When the moment finally came to open it, she tore off the wrapping paper to find an ordinary cardboard box. When she opened the box, she found three bars of soap and another smaller box that I had leftover from a computer printer I had bought a while before. “Great,” she thought, “soap and a computer printer. I don’t own a computer or use one!” She kept her disappointment hidden, and showed as much gratitude as she could, “Wow. Thanks, Jerome.”
I encouraged her to open the box. When she did, she found three bottles of beauty cream and another smaller box. Now, she was beginning to get it. The gifts got better as she went along, until the final gift, which was a special expensive bracelet , a design and color I knew she’d love, from the famous store that she could never afford. She was so happy. I was so happy. Neither of us will ever forget it.
Here’s the question: what if she had stopped at the computer printer box? What if she said, “That’s it, Jerome, I waited all this time for a special sign of your love for me this Christmas, you build my expectations with a huge mysterious-looking box, and you get me a few bars of soap and a computer printer? You don’t know me, you don’t love me, and on top of that, you’re a cheapo! Take a hike!” She didn’t. She trusted me.
“And this will be a sign unto you, you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12)… See, most of the Israelites were expecting a great sign that God had promised them of His love for them, a great anticipated gift from Him: the Messiah and His everlasting Kingdom. “A newborn baby in an animal feeder in a cold cave? We waited a thousand years in captivity and wandering, for a powerless little baby born into poverty and squalor?!” They could have stopped there and said, “God, You don’t know us, You don’t love us, and on top of that, You’re a cheapo! Take a hike!” But the shepherds didn’t. They trusted God.
God has promised each one of us something unbelievably great. When it seems His gift is disappointing and painful, don’t stop, don’t walk away. Keep opening the boxes, and you’ll get a gift you never dreamed of. A treasure is waiting.