Advent and Disappointing Gifts

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After the Waiting…3candles

I love the Advent season – the lights, the prayers, the buying of presents, arranging them under the tree, the songs, and the special gatherings to celebrate the Lord. And yet…I keep thinking about the whole “waiting and then the gift” paradigm I see in scripture and it gives me pause. No one wants to give a present only to see it opened and the recipient’s face fall in disappointment but God has seen that time and again and…it seems…even set up us for disappointment to teach us something about ourselves or about Him.

The children of Israel were hungry so God supplied…manna. Lots of manna. Every day. After awhile even Bubba Gump would run out of ways to cook manna. What was God thinking? Sure, He supplied meat for them once when they complained too loudly but that didn’t go well so let’s not go there right now.

I am sure Hosea was a good man who prayed for a wife to help him in his ministry. I’m sure his mother prayed that God prepare a special little girl for her little guy. But when Hosea got the present God gave him he wasn’t happy (and it seems he didn’t make her happy either).

I could go on…okay, I will. Remember that whole “I am taking you to a land flowing with milk and honey” thing? Talk about poetic license! When they opened up that present they found it full of people who didn’t like them and had the temerity to believe they owned the land they lived on. There was a lot more blood and pain than there was milk and honey.

But God is not evil nor is He capricious. There were reasons for these gifts and many other gifts we could name. Let’s turn our minds to the wonderful gift of God we received in Jesus and how…well…odd that was.

It is here I must restrain myself. I could go on for a hundred pages about how amazingly, wonderously HUGE our universe is and what a magical, mind-boggling place it is. I can go from Patrick to full blown “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” in 0.01 seconds if I don’t watch out. Let’s just all agree: it is bigger than we can imagine and more beautiful and wondrous and amazing and…you get the idea. [we pause here for Patrick to breathe deeply into a paper bag until he gets his science nerd self under control]

And God made that universe. All of it. Just made it. Not sure how and the “why” can get a little confusing but He made it and it is awesome. Now – a God like that is coming to us! He is going to save us from the Assyrians, Babylonians, Philistines, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans! And from the internecine warfare taking place in Jewish life between secularists, liberals, legalists, and politicians. Yes! Imagine what it will look like when a God who can make the Milky Way Galaxy arrives in Jerusalem. What will that look like? It positively boggles the mind to consider the possibilities.

And He arrived…in the form of a baby. Born in an annex to a guesthouse. To a not-quite-married teen girl. Whose story sounded fishy even to her own kids later in life.

God – thanks for the present, but we were expecting something else. We were expecting armies of angels. We were expecting a King David (in his good years, not the fat, old, and adulterous years) preceded by a herd of Elijahs sniffing out reprobates followed by Solomon and a multitude of builders to finally get the Temple back in shape. We were expecting fireworks. We got a baby.

But that is the only way God can approach us without us scattering to the winds. The God that made all things cannot directly approach us or we would die. This may not have been the gift we were expecting but it was exactly the gift we needed. In fact, no other gift would have meant so much.

So it is in our own lives. We ask for this or that gift but God gives as He sees fit. Sometimes we are disappointed in the gifts He gives us (and in those He doesn’t) but if we deal with it and move on we eventually learn to trust Him. He IS smarter than us, remember?

So as Advent moves on toward the Great Event on the 25th keep in mind that God disappointed a lot of people when He gave us a baby. But that gift was awesome. That gift saved us all.

Perfect gift, God. Absolutely perfect. Thank you.

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