Mystery is interesting. At Christmas time, with God's help, we mature to where we enjoy giving more than we enjoy receiving. But the excitement of gift giving comes in part from the mystery involved therein. Whether you're the young child trembling in anticipation of what could be underneath the beautifully colored paper and ribbons, or you're the giver, watching for the look of joy that appears on another person's face because you've blessed them in some way, it is the cheerful unveiling of a mystery by someone we love which provides us with a deep sense of satisfaction. If it weren't so satisfying, it is hard to imagine this tradition in late December would have persisted for the many years that it has.
While we wait for the mystery to be revealed, most of our focus is on the packaging. It's the shape and size of the box that gets our imagination going. It's the patterns and colors in the wrapping that keeps us guessing what could be inside. But once the gift is revealed, the packaging is discarded, because the gift itself is greater than the packaging.
In Romans 8:19, Paul says that all of creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. The earth, subjected to many centuries of bloodshed and corruption, stands trembling in anticipation, waiting for Christ to return and for all of God's faithful children to be revealed, to receive their crowns and their beautiful white garments, and to have their proud Father say, "Well done!"
But for now, we're stuck most of the time looking at the world's packaging, and it has not always been well wrapped. Some of this is because of the ugliness of people's choices, their dishonesty, and their corruption. Some of it is shiny and gaudy, because people shower themselves with luxuries, never thinking to share with those who struggle to get by. If you look at history books and magazines, you'll see leaders and dictators, tycoons and socialites. But underneath this crinkly thin exterior, God has many children whose stories remain hidden from sight.
People tend to look past or even avoid the things God thinks are beautiful. The family member who puts their own life and ambitions on hold to be a caregiver for another family member. The person who quietly sends anonymous support to another family who needs the help. The person who accepts a thankless responsibility that no one else wants so that others can be blessed. The quiet things you do because of your love for God are the hidden treasures in this world that, for now, often only God knows.
Jesus has told us to stay dedicated and not to be afraid, because one day all things covered are going to be revealed, and all things hidden are going to be made known (Matthew 10:26). God is going to tear off and discard the world's shallow packaging, and reveal the beautiful treasures that have been hidden from everyone but himself. The real stories will be told, and those quiet souls who've shared God's love without reservation or recognition will be held up and celebrated as the gift to the world that they are; the pride of their Father. It will be the cheerful unveiling of a hidden mystery, and one that we hope to make even more beautiful because of our own unseen devotion. Spend your life showing kindness and mercy with God as your only intended audience. God is watching, and everything is more beautiful when it is revealed in God's good timing.