When I was a kid, baseball cards in the drugstore were sold in sealed packets. Wrapped ten-to-a-packet, often with a skinny piece of gum, that packaging didn’t give us the luxury of getting to pick individual player cards. You got what you got!
The makers of Lego toy products have come under fire recently for a new packaging decision that is irking many customers. For some time now, Lego’s collectible minifigures have been sold individually in opaque plastic bags for $5.00. Without explicit labeling on the package to inform collectors of what actual minifigure is inside, buyers squeeze and grope the little bags, hoping to recognize what animal or person is hidden inside. Kind of like kids feeling packages under the Christmas tree before Christmas ever rolls around, groping a Lego “blind bag” is how the curious try to eliminate some of the surprise of what’s inside.
Lego’s parent company is shifting from a single-use plastic bag to a more environmentally-friendly paper box. No reduction in sales is expected. In fact, more trips to the store to buy more unmarked paper boxes, in pursuit of that one collectible a person may be after, seems even more likely.
I have the sense that a lot of us want predictable surprises. A student may say to her professor, “Tell me exactly what I have to do to get an A.” Expecting parents share the sex of their child-to-be at a gender reveal party. Pollsters try to reduce the guesswork for a political candidate’s odds. We’re not terribly comfortable with too much unpredictability. We crave the taming of so much surprise.
But a world devoid of surprise sounds a lot like prison – one day of sameness rolling into the next day of sameness. Sequential predictability. Monotony.
In the religious world where I center my soul, I want to give thanks for the unpredictability of Jesus. His moves and words cannot be tamed. They never could be and they never will be. We may want Jesus to be the same as we are; a nice idea borrowed from centuries worth of faith-minded ancestors. But he will not consent. A predictable Lord devoid of wonder and astonishment is an impotent deity.
So, despite some comfort associated with predictability, this may be a good day for us to thank God for not showing us everything about the future – either our individual future or our world’s future.