My Cheerios Prize & The Mysteries of God

I remember when I was a kid how exciting it was to get a prize in my cereal. I had friends who would open a brand new box, pour out the contents, dig out the prize, and then force handfuls of frosted goodness back into their cellophane bag. The bag was then stuffed back into it's colorful box, taking on a dilapidated, swollen look guaranteeing that it would never fit in the cabinet again.

I suppose I was a bit more reserved. To me, the prize was meant to be a surprise. It was destined to land in my bowl as I stood bleary eyed at the table, awaiting another variation on Cheerios (Honey Nut? Apple Cinnamon?). I rarely challenged this order of events, choosing to wait patiently for the day when I might find a baking soda powered submarine, ring, or whistle in my bowl.

Not much has changed for me. I still eat my Cheerios regularly, though they're alternated with Raisin Bran or a Granola Bar on some days. The prize now goes to my son, since I don't need any pencil toppers or bobble heads. I did, however keep an Indiana Jones Light-up spoon for myself not too long ago.

But one thing has changed. Cereal companies have removed the mystery, anticipation, and yearning for my son's generation. Instead of the prizes being submerged in a boxful of breakfast, they're tucked neatly in the cavity between the box and the bag of cereal inside. Children around the world can now simply poke their hands into this slim chamber to find whatever toy has been tenderly crafted for them in China. No longer will parents find cereal all over the table after unloading the groceries. Quiet mornings will no more be interrupted by the excited chatter of a child who's been surprised by the "plop" of a new toy.

I think our lives require a sense of mystery, surprise, and wonder to remind us that there is a bigger plan at work. While I know God in many ways, I also know that there are many things I do not know. He is a mystery. I know as much about Him as He has revealed in His Word--as much as is required for salvation (John 3:16). I do not know or understand how He came to be (John 1:1), why he has made some of the decisions that He's made (Romans 9:21), or when He will fulfill the last of His promises (Mark 13:32).

For some, the mysteries of God bring discouragement and doubt. For me, they bring encouragement and trust. Since I do not understand God, I know that He is much bigger than I am. He remains mysterious in many ways, so I know that His plan is at work and that I am part of a bigger picture. I relish the idea that I cannot explain God fully-- though as a pastor many expect me to. For me, the essence of God is that we cannot describe all aspects of His essence.

Now, excuse me while I pour another bowl of cereal.

An abbreviated version of this article appeared in Florence News Journal


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