On January 5th 2018, I wrote Unwrapped – a post about a question I was pondering: does God keep the future secret so, in part, we will be overjoyed and delighted when we unwrap a gift He has given us?
Fourteen days later I was released from my job. Unemployed. Uh, is that a gift? Gifts don’t always appear wrapped in pretty paper and ornate bows. Sometimes they look like a crumpled, greasy paper bag. But that’s just perception, which we know to be subjective and personal and faulty. God’s gifts are always good.
Consider the story in Matthew 8, when Jesus begins explaining to the disciples that He will die at the hands of men, and rise again on the 3rd day. With the advantage of hindsight, we have an easier time of seeing this as the great gift that it is. Peter did not have that advantage, and he rebuked Jesus. We know what happened then. Jesus rebuked Peter. Harshly. (note to self: never, ever, ever get in a rebuking contest with God)
Deuteronomy 29:29 reminds us the secrets are not ours, they are God’s.
The secret things belong to the Lord our God.
The future is a secret. The path ahead is a secret. God’s gifts are a secret, until we unwrap them.
For the most part, people don’t like secrets. Secrets make us feel inadequate, uncertain, anxious, fearful. I am squarely in that camp. I want to know everything, upfront and in great detail. I have a feeling (anxiety) about knowing where the pitfalls are, what risks exist, when solutions will make it all better. The anxiety persists until the unknowns become known, or I remember that secrets belong to God. Anxiety is the result of a chronic disease called illusion of control.
When I feel like I have control, I have more confidence in me. On some occasions, I’ve even been known to swagger. When that happens, my dog hides under the bed and my friends roll their eyes. I suppose appreciation for swagger is an acquired taste.
However, confidence in me is not what God has called me to. He says to have confidence in Him:
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14
Faced with our humanity, our limitations, our inadequacies, we may feel “less than”. We shouldn’t. We should feel “human”.
Example: I admire how hawks and eagles soar on thermal winds, seemingly with no effort. I have yet to see a bird of any type that can type 120 words a minute, read a book, or drive a car. I don’t judge them for that. Instead, I celebrate the genius of how God designed them, and how He gifted them with those abilities. If I am in a particular mood, I smile at how they seem to enjoy themselves as they do what God created them to do.
Today is a gift. From God. What will I do with it? Complain that it is not wrapped in paper and bows? Be anxious about the unknown? Look for ways to prop up my illusion of control? Begrudge my inability to fly? Or will I embrace my humanness and my gifts, and the mystery of how God created me precisely for the specific path I am walking?
If I remember that He is with me every step and every minute, I enjoy life. When I use the gifts and talents God personally gave me, it does feel like soaring on the wind.