It was my birthday. Having had more than 50 of these things, it’s not quite the big deal it was when I was a boy.
It’s pretty hard to buy gifts for me. When asked for ideas, my answer usually comes out to, “I don’t know, I’m pretty happy.” That’s usually good, but a little frustrating, I suppose, when someone wants to do something for you. Anyway, it means I’m not going around thinking, “I wonder what I’m getting for my birthday!” Maybe that’s part of why birthdays don’t seem so big to me.
This time, though, something was in the air. My daughter said I wasn’t allowed in our bedroom (where the wrapping paper is) — and said she might be more than an hour!
But I was busy with many things that day, so I didn’t have time to think about it or try to figure out what in the world she was doing. I took care of responsibilities, and when I came to the table for my birthday dinner, an end of the table was covered with wrapped gifts of various sizes — and my kids were looking very, very pleased with themselves.
So after dinner, the time came to open my gifts. The first was handed to me, and I opened it — a small bag of Skittles.
I like Skittles. I’ve even been known to mention, in a sermon illustration, just how much I like them. But it’s not something I ever buy, because it is a frivolous expense, and not the healthiest thing in the world, either. But that was a nice idea. I’ll enjoy my Skittles.
They handed me my next gift, and I opened it. Another bag of Skittles. Hmmm…. I look down at the end of the table, covered with presents….
Big packages, little packages, it doesn’t matter. You know what they contain. 55 gram bags of Skittles, 36 of them! Some came, according to the tags, from my kids. Some came from our dogs, Winnie-the-Pooh, Puddleglum, Smeagol, The Ancient Mariner, etc.
Surprises are fun — the best part is planning them. When you have a good surprise, which you know someone you love will enjoy, there’s a lot of pleasure, good pleasure, in planning it, settling in your mind how you will do it, then carrying it out. That’s true whether it is a silly and fun thing like Skittles, or something big and important.
I was preaching yesterday in Ephesians 1, and we came to this verse.
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
The “mystery” here is not something obscure, but a surprise, something God had planned but hadn’t revealed, but has now “made known unto us.” He worked it all out, “purposed in Himself.” As we like to plan surprises for someone we love, so also did God.
His plan was to redeem lost sinners, to reconcile all things to Himself, to unite Jews and Gentiles, to end the devastation that sin has brought into the world. He planned it in keeping with that which was pleasing to Him, “His good pleasure.”
As we may like to hint that something good is coming when we have a surprise in the works, so also did the Lord. He did more than just hint. The prophets told of His plan, the Old Testament illustrated it in the sacrifices and in other ways. If someone was paying attention, they would have known much of this “surprise,” this “mystery.” They certainly would know God was going to provide redemption, salvation from sin.
But the entire master plan of redemption was not shown in all its glory until the Saviour came. It was God’s good pleasure to plan the surprise, and fully reveal it in His Son.
I’ll enjoy my Skittles. But now, every time I open a bag, I’ll think about God’s good pleasure in planning His surprise for us. Even Skittles can have a spiritual benefit — but my kids gave them to me, so it wouldn’t be right for me to give any of them away. You’ll have to buy your own.
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son….