If there is ever a time that it’s OK to keep secrets from each other, it’s now, at Christmas. We buy gifts and then try to find the best hiding places around the house so that little…or big…snoops don’t find them. We rush to grab that delivered box off the porch before our husband or child grabs it first. It’s fun and exciting and perfectly allowed.
Then we must wrap the gift when prying eyes won’t see what it is. I used to love stacking our children’s wrapped gifts in their individual piles and having them put their own gifts under the tree. There was lots of shaking and guessing going on while they worked. It was so much fun! I knew the answers to their many questions, but I kept it to myself as I watched them wonder what was in each box.
Last year, as Gary and I sat by our tree, Aaron joined us. It wasn’t long before he was on his knees in front of the tree, taking out boxes to see which ones were for him. He went through that ageless process of trying to guess the content of the gifts that bore his name. And I went through the same ageless process of telling him that he must wait for the answer.
You know, God has secrets, too. I just read about that fact this morning. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God…”
There are things that God keeps to Himself, things about my life and about His doings in my life. I don’t always understand why God orders my life in the ways that He does. I don’t always know what’s in each box that ends up on the front porch of my life.
And perhaps more importantly, I don’t often understand the “why” of some of the gifts that God gives. In fact, there are things that I wouldn’t even classify as a gift in many ways. A gift should be fun and wanted and needed, right?
I think of Aaron, of what a gift it was when after five years of marriage God allowed me to finally be pregnant. Of the immense joy I felt as I held my little baby son 37 years ago, feeling like the most blessed woman in the history of the world. Of watching him grow, smart as a whip and cute as a button. Then the sudden huge seizure when he was in the first grade, the years of medicines and tests and doctors and still seizures. The unexplained behaviors that manifested more and more as he got older, that set him apart from his siblings and his peers. The diagnosis of autism, the challenges of his anger and his very particular way of conducting his life. The forever care that he needs and the way that this impacts Gary and me now in our older years. The questions about his future, and ours.
But on the hard days, in the sadness of seizures and the frustrations of autism, I have a choice to make about this gift that God has given me. I can question it, I can resent it, I can let it make me bitter.
Or I can look beyond the gift into the heart of the Giver and know that He only has my good…and Aaron’s good…in His loving heart. God has some secrets that only He knows about concerning Aaron and his life, and therefore mine. I don’t need to know God’s reasons before I exercise trust in Him. I just need to know Him. Period.
When I grasp that concept…and so often I don’t…then I can experience some other gifts that God has given me.
Those attitudes, those gifts, come and go with me.
“What IS this, God?” I can imagine me asking Him as I shake the box.
“Go ahead and open it,” He responds.
“But I didn’t ask for this,” I tell Him as I see what’s inside.
“No,” he lovingly says. “But I know that you need this very thing.”
“Why?!” I ask through my tears.
“Oh,” he answers, “that is a secret for only Me to know right now. Someday I will let you in on the secret, but not today.”
“But…” I so often begin.
And God answers:
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17)
Like the old hymn writer said:
And we wonder why the test when we try to do our best, but we’ll understand it better by and by.
By and by, when the morning comes,
When the saints of God are gathered home,
We’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome
For we’ll understand it better by and by.