We are now, I would say, officially in the season of surprises.
Part of the fun in anticipating Christmas is planning how best to surprise a loved one with a special time or gift. We have a family story about the time mom really needed a new sewing machine. The family had driven into Vancouver to run errands and shop. Business was top of the list, but then mom spotted a great buy on the very machine she wanted.
In typical style, dad was in a hurry and no frame of mind to shop around. The family put forth all of the good reasons they could think of for dad to get the machine. Answer: no. Finally, the day’s business over, everyone loaded into the car for the drive home – sans sewing machine.
When we got home, the first job was to feed the dogs and get supper on. Then dad called us kids to unload the trunk. And lo and behold – there was the sewing machine! Somehow, dad had managed to “finagle” the purchase without anyone knowing. All unhappy feelings dissolved and many terrific outfits came out of that machine over the years.
Jesus tells the story of two sons who were asked to go and “work in the field” (Matthew 21:28-31). The first son said no, but then regretting his choice, changed his mind and went to work anyway. The second son said, “Sure,” but then never showed up. Which boy actually obeyed? The first, of course and Jesus goes on to caution us about figuring that we know what people are about by listening to the “rhetoric.” What really counts is what we do. More recently, English philosopher and physician John Locke put it this way, The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.
In this season of mystery and surprise, I am grateful that God has made the effort to not only surprise us with good things, but also to remove some of the mystery that serves to discourage and disappoint us. And in order to do that, God did something.
He came to live here with us. Look! The virgin will conceive a child and they will call him Immanuel, which means God is with us (Matthew 1:23.)
If we want to understand God, we can look to the time He came to live among us, see how He lived and see what He did.
That simple exercise gives much reason to hope; much reason to rejoice; much reason to live!
Peggy Corbett is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church congregation.