Have you ever gotten a really ugly package? We did. Not too long before Christmas God delivered a personal package to us that was U-G-L-Y ugly. When it first arrived, I really, really wanted to give it back. I could not understand how God would want to us to receive a gift that appeared mangled, beaten-up and had a stench about it. It didn't seem like much of a gift at all. More like a bad dream where you wonder "is it over yet?". As life would have it, it was ours to keep.
So we accepted the ugly package. We looked it over. Checked it out from side-to-side, top-to-bottom trying to figure out what God wanted us to do with it. It was still ugly, but somehow after holding it for a bit, it wasn't quite as ugly. Actually, I became a little curious as to what might be in the package. Not so curious that I wanted to open it, but willing to sit in the corner, thank God for it and wait to see if something emerged from it.
Initially the packaged just started smelling worse. I thought if I could just put it outside for awhile - perhaps the theory of "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" would actually make the package disappear. Didn't happen.
Then something odd began to happen. The package started shedding its ugliness and we would see glimpses of a real gift - something valuable that only God could give us. Little by little, the ugly packaging was falling off. At first, I just stood back and waited to see if it would just turn back into something ugly. But it didn't. God began to unwrap our gift and to take off the ugly packaging. It seemed that only the Holy hand of God would be able to fully unwrap this gift. Human hands would only tarnish what was inside the ugly packaging. But Holy Hands - now that is something different. Holy Hands can take what appears to our human eyes to be ugly and distorted and mangled and make it into something far more beautiful and magnificent than we could ever imagine.
God is still unwrapping the ugly package. As he continues the process, something absolutely amazing is appearing from within. My heart is overjoyed at the amazing and personal gift God gave us - in some really ugly packaging.
So how about you - has God ever given you something that made you wonder "why" or "how" or "what am I going to do with this"? I'm not talking about material gifts. I'm talking about those life experiences that don't seem to make any sense in the beginning. They aren't pretty, they are hard and difficult and sometimes make our heart ache. But if given time and praise, God begins to unwrap the ugly package and inside we find the most treasured and wonderful gifts that remind us just how much God loves us. Don't discard the ugly packages - they tend to have the best gifts inside.