Walking through Walmart recently, I had to laugh at those funny gift boxes that look like containers for a different and totally fake product:  Things like the “iArm” mount for your tablet, so you can mount your iPad to your arm (or your car’s steering wheel); or the “Family-size Snuggy” so a whole family can keep warm together…or you can use it to cover your SUV.  These deceptive product boxes will give you and the family laughs as you open presents, and keep the mystery of the real gift hidden for a few more moments.

I laughed at these boxes for a couple of reasons.  First, I wish I had patented the idea first!  After all, this is something we’ve all done for years!  At first, it was just something we did already, all though not for laughs.  My parents would get presents, but needed a box to wrap it in.  They’d find a box from a toaster they had purchased months before, and since it was the right size, they’d wrap the present in that.  As a little kid, I’d open one of these deceptively boxed presents, and initially be confused…maybe even cried at first, but then burst into smiles when the real gift was revealed. After I got married, my wife’s family had a bit more fun with this concept.  When a person unwrapped a gift in a box that was not the real present’s container, there would be the call by everyone of “Bogus Box,” followed by laughs.  So the concept is old, but someone decided to take it to a new level….and is probably laughing all the way to the bank!

The second reason is that it’s often how God has given me many of His gifts.  Two times in my life, my job was cut due to downsizing.  For a guy who takes a lot of his identity from his work, this was devastating!  But God used those times to try to chip away at my dependence on work for my identity, and put that where it really belongs…on Him.

In one of those downsizings, I was given the opportunity to move to Fargo.  At first, I thought, “Fargo??  Really, God!?!?”  It has become one of the favorite places I’ve lived with many good, caring friends.

And really, that’s just a couple of examples off the top of my mind. It makes sense that just as God sent His Son to us as He did (born to a poor family from the backwater of Nazareth, and born in a stable in the small town of Bethlehem) would also continue to surprise us with His good things in packages that belie what is truly inside.

Photo: Flickr