I really want to talk to you guys about Santa Claus, which seems a little silly, coming from a girl that wants to talk about Jesus every other day of the year, to choose to talk about Santa on Jesus’ birthday.
But that’s just the point, isn’t it? I actually really, really despise Santa Claus (and no, you’re not going to change my mind, even if you try to reform me to a Saint Nick supporter, because I still feel it’s just justifying turning an outright lie into a fuzzy story, and it’s still just making Christmas about something other than the Eternal One, born into lowly, human skin. Besides, that’s another reason why I despise Santa. Because it’s a socially acceptable way to lie to our children).
Truly, though, we do this every other day, too, don’t we? Maybe it’s not Santa Claus, but we pretend like every other day is about something other than eternity. Santa takes over one of the most sacred days of the year, but daily, it’s other distractions vying for our attention and devotion.
This past Saturday, I had the agonizing experience of attending a funeral of someone who I care deeply about (and whose family I care deeply about), followed by (about 17 hours later) a Sunday morning Christmas Eve phone call, informing me that one of my closest friend’s (and next door neighbor’s) husband had been murdered.
That was yesterday. I am still reeling.
One of the things that strikes me most, as I am processing my grief, is that we all want to know that someone had made amends with God, by the time they pass on into eternity. It’s like somewhere, deep in the recesses of our conscience, even if we reject His Majesty all the days of our life, there’s this tender pull that alerts us that there is indeed an afterlife, and that we really need to be on the winning team when our time comes (and we all assume that we will have a warning shot before that ax falls).
You hear it at funerals, and in the ways that those left in the wake of death describe their deceased loved ones. Always talking about them being in “a better place”, yet when it comes to those who didn’t live lives of glory and devotion to Christ, the “better place” comments are always shrouded in tones of fear. I hear this every single time someone near me dies. And when it’s folks in Christ, there is courage in the voices of those left in the wake.
Now, I am a firm believer in the God who chose a cross-shaped death in order to save a dying thief who was strung up next to Him, and my begging-prayer is that He has done the same for these 2 men who just passed. But that’s not my point. And I think that’s part of why this is the conversation we tend to avoid. Because we don’t know what happened in their inner dialogue, in the final hours or moments of their existence. We can only hope for mercy, and that their dying thoughts were full of wisdom and holy surrender, in humble repentance toward their Creator.
I still feel kinda sorry for that dying thief, though, that hung on a cross next to Jesus. People seem to have this faulty idea that if you give your life to Jesus, He robs you of all joy. I can only hope that those who know me, would see by my enjoyment of, and devotion to, Him, that this is a gross misconception. Following Jesus IS the life of joy! Following Jesus is the life of purpose, goodness, glory and bliss. And that soul-impoverished thief only had his final moments to enjoy a life in Christ. The rest of it was spent in selfishness, pain, and loss.
But, back to Santa Claus (whose first name happens to be a scrambled up version of “satan” and whose second name sounds like “claws”)…. My severe disliking for Santa is simply because he distracts us from what is really happening, what this holiday is actually about. And we perpetually do this. We think that life is about the things that don’t really matter for very long at all: money, busyness, friends, food, technology, jobs, people’s perceptions of us, our social status, houses, the way we look, etc., etc. And all of these things are things we have to contend with, as long as we’re living down here…. but they are not the true substance of life. Somewhere in the Bible, it teaches us that if we have food and covering, we should be content. Still, we exhaust ourselves to keep on par with the Joneses.
Life is about eternity. It’s about a mission to love. It’s about walking with God in humility and affection. It’s about reconciling ourselves to what matters for good, for eternity, for Him. It’s about enjoying communion with our Maker!
Truth is, the afterlife is a lot longer than this temporal one. That’s why, at funerals, even of people that never believed in Christ, they still talk about where they ended up, and it’s always with hope that their new home is adorned with pearly gates. Because we all know that this is the temporary place, deep down in the hidden crevices of our minds, even though we sometimes suppress those thoughts until too late.
I know this may not be a fun blog to read. Please know that it’s even harder to write. You have the freedom to turn your face away. I don’t, because this all really needs said, and I know that I will bear some responsibility if someone I love dies tonight and had no warning shot. Consider this your warning shot, and possibly your final one. It’s easy enough to think that we’re invincible, but the truth is, there are 4 people that I am connected with that I have known of dying THIS MONTH. 4 PEOPLE! That’s a lot. That’s 2 funerals this week. Soon enough, we will all have to face the Judgment Seat, and it breaks my heart, more than anything in the world, to think that anyone reading this would not end up in “a better place,” simply because they have treasured the fleeting, self-serving pleasures of this very temporary place more than the One who said Himself that He is indeed preparing a better place for all those who would come to Him with a humble heart, treasuring Him above all other gifts that could ever be given in this quickly fading world. And it breaks my heart even that any of my many friends would waste all their lives serving themselves, when they could be enjoying a life of fulfillment, purpose, joy and, most importantly, Him!
There is nothing that makes me weep so much as joy does… the joy of Him. I only wish that all of my beloved friends could experience what I have found in Him, and in living for the land of bliss eternal! Somewhere it says that my citizenship is in Heaven, and I plan to live with that mindset. Living for this world is like living in a 2 dimensional sketch book, when you are meant to inhabit time and space! And honestly, its a pretty miserable sketch book comparatively. I’ve been there. I know.
Santa is not the meaning of Christmas, and temporal “pleasures” are not the meaning of life. Live for and enjoy what matters! Worship the One who matters, and who will matter forever! Merry Christmas, ya’all. May this year bring you what truly matters, and what truly satisfies the soul forever. May we all end up in a better place. The best of places!
In a holy and hard kinda love,