If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Jesus) Matthew 7:11 NIV

The best gifts are the ones you don’t expect.

Frankly, after 55+ years of Valentines Days, I wasn’t expecting much of an evening. True, I’d made reservations for a sleigh ride and dinner at the 320 Ranch, but I’d been fighting a cold all week. How good could it be?

Turns out we had the most fun we’ve had in a long time.

For it was at the 320 and the mountains behind it that we’d enjoyed our best times together as a family:  camping, riding, packing in a hunting camp, complete with a turkey, every Thanksgiving. Spending the evening at the ranch, going on a sleigh ride, seeing some elk on the hillside, brought those good memories back.

We laughed and reminisced, sharing the old stories with each other and some of the guests, ate a great dinner in those fondly-familiar surroundings. Even my cold decided to relax its grip for a few hours.

Then we drove home, full and happy, under the star-spangled winter sky.  It was, as the French say, “a good moment.” One I won’t forget.

It felt like a gift from our Father-God.

Why would He choose to bless us in this way? I don’t know. It certainly wasn’t anything I did…except to make the plan. And my best-laid plans “gang a-glee” as often as everyone else’s. That this one didn’t, that the evening was, in fact, far better than I’d hoped for, had everything to do with God and nothing with me.

How could that happen? Why would the God of the far-flung universe notice me at all, much less love me—and you–like that? Why would He give us something we didn’t expect just to make us happy? I can’t answer these questions; I never will. Gifts like this never explain His love, only confirm it.

Jesus gave us the reason: our Father’s love. Don’t we, as human parents, delight in giving gifts to our children? Doesn’t it warm our hearts to see our children smile? Don’t we get special joy out of giving “just because?” Why wouldn’t God delight in gifting His kids that way?

Sometimes His gifts are easy to see, as this one was. Other times, they are more subtle, small things hard to describe. Either way, you know He has reached out and touched you with His love.

Our part is to recognize those gifts and be grateful.

As I am doing now.

FATHER-GOD: Thank You for Your unexpected Valentines gift. Amen.

First published February 19, 2017.