My parents have a knack for surprises. When I was 12, I had been eyeing a bike for more than a year, and I just knew I'd get it for Christmas. I could feel it with every bone in my body. On Christmas morning, I ran downstairs and looked expectantly for it under the tree. No luck. Ha, I told myself, they've hidden it in the garage. They'll lead me to it after all the other presents are opened. I waited, not patiently, but I waited. After all the gifts were unwrapped, we were told to get dressed for church. No hesitations, no additions. I couldn't believe it. I wasn't going to get my bike!
I sulked through the whole service. I sat down with a "humph" to Christmas dinner and picked at my mashed potatoes. How could they do this to me? They knew how much I wanted that bike. It was the only thing I requested all year long. Was it too much to ask? Had I been too bold to assume they would grant my one wish?
The whole family sat down to our yearly viewing of White Christmas and I chuckled halfheartedly at Danny Kaye's antics. As my frustration subsided and I closed my eyes for a long winter's nap, someone shook me. "Get up, get up!" my dad cried as my mom started doing her "oohh, I'm really excited" dance. I rubbed my eyes, staring at my goofy parents. They proceeded to drag me out the back door and dump me out in the snow. That woke me up.
I banged on the door for them to let me in. They smiled and pointed behind me. When I turned around, there it was. Shining in the Christmas moonlight, my 10-speed wonder was a sight to see. My parents flung open the door, shouted "Merry Christmas!" and opened their arms for a hug. I ran to them without hesitation.
Now, looking back, I shake my head at the way I acted that day. I hardly even acknowledged my parents until I got exactly what I wanted. If my parents hadn't bought me that bike, would they no longer be generous, loving examples of God's love? Of course not!
We often look at God the same way I looked at my parents that day. We expect God to fulfill our wish list. But if he always gave us exactly what we demanded, his blessings wouldn't be as special. He would miss out on surprising us every once in awhile!
Our God is a God of surprises, but he is also a God who loves to be thanked. He wants us to enjoy our blessings, but not so much that we forget to run back into his arms. He hears our requests—like money for college. He knows what's best—and it might be different than what you expected. And he shows us love in giving the best gift of all—himself (Luke 11:13).
As you face the challenge of paying for college, trust God as the ultimate giver of good gifts and turn all your desires over to him. He may surprise you!
Heather, a junior at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, served a one-week internship with Campus Life last spring.