I do love so much about Christmas and this time of year. I love that people seem to get together more and I love the way the world seems to slow down some. I love to give and I love when someone has thought about me enough to send a card or email. I love the movies: “It’s A Wonderful Life” is my favorite and I think my favorite line is “‘...is he sick?’ ‘No. Worse. He’s discouraged.’” Used to I’d cry every time I watched that movie, now I can tear up just seeing it come on! Then there’s Miracle on 34th Street, A Charlie Brown Christmas special - they all get to me.
BUT I have to remember, these are not real, they aren’t real life and don’t express the whole story. I wish we all lived happily every after but that is why they are called fairly tales. We still live on earth. Prince Charming still deals with midlife crisis and being laid off. Cinderella has stretch marks and crying children and a struggle with her step mom. In real life Zuzu (remember Zuzu’s petals) experienced the death of both her parents, dealt with a divorce, a child who committed suicide, her second husbands untimely death and a devastating financial setback.
It’d be nice to think that when our bank account got in trouble some good neighbors just started bringing money and throwing it on the table cause they love us so much. Or that our child’s dream house would suddenly appear on a street around the corner. Or that we could quote Luke 2 and all the people who have been mean to us would join hands and sing.
But reality is: The church, the best place in town, still has some mean people in it. There are still some hypocrites who won’t live on Monday the songs they sing on Sunday. People still lie, gossip, steal, hate...IT is life. I still have bills to pay, have to struggle with my weight, get put out with my wife, angry at my own stupidity, and perplexed over the actions of others. We’ll still face depression, dejection and boredom.
Now, I’m not a nihilist but as long as we think someone or something is going to make us happy and as long as we think “happily ever after” will be found on this earth we are going to live frustrated sad lives. Jesus told us not to except anything less this side of eternity: “In this world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). And Paul was just as clear: “Indeed, all who desie to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12, ESV). Yes, people can and do change, that is part of why we teach and preach but we best not live lives expecting evil people without the redeeming grace of God in their lives to be anything except, well, evil (2 Timothy 3:13; Romans 8:22).
I’m blessed by living in a time of comfort, a land of plenty, to have been born into a family of faith and adopted into a Family of love, to have a roof over my head, a wife who loves me and a job I am passionate about. So, I’m not complaining here, but hopefully this is a reminder to us all: this is not all there is, as good as it is, it does not compare to heaven and as bad as it could be it doesn’t compare with hell. Love the Lord, live for Him, spend this short side of eternity preparing for the long other.
I believe...not in Christmas magic or Santa but in God, His Son, His Word and His people.