Have you ever felt like you're living on auto-pilot? We see the same baristas every morning, the same co-workers every week and the same cashiers at the grocery store every weekend. What if God has more in store for those interactions than mundane small talk? What if the Kingdom starts with small acts of intention?
We are unaware of what’s most constant. And for a long time, during the holidays, we’ve mistaken unawareness of something for a lack of something. We’ve maybe allowed the hustle, bustle, and mind-boggling activity of Christmas to make us calloused to the real meaning in all of it. The good news is that no matter how hard we try...we just can’t seem to take Christ out of Christmas.
For Christmas people, December 25 is the center and pinnacle of the year. They look forward to it and, instead of seeing December 26 as the day after Christmas, they see it as the 363rd day before it. All year is about anticipation and the hope that comes during the holiday season. Even if you aren’t one of those kinds of people, by now you’re anticipating the joy of what’s just one week away. Isn’t it interesting how that acts as a metaphor for life in general? We’re always waiting, aren’t we? Waiting for things to be better. Waiting to catch a break. What we’ve missed in Christmas though, is that the wait is finally over.
In the movie Beaches, Bette Midler’s character says, “Enough about me, let's talk about you...what do YOU think of me?” And while we may never say that out loud, it’s certainly the question constantly running through our minds––especially at Christmas time. “How do I look? What do people think? Make the appearance. Build my brand.” The holidays can feel like one long audition for the part of “accepted member of society,” can’t they? And often, it seems like we don’t have the stuff to make the cut. But there is, however, an audience that bases its opinion of you on different criteria. The crazy thing is, that audience only has one member.
In 1973, the O’Jays released the most covert Christmas song ever: For the Love of Money. At least that’s what the long lines, countless Amazon deliveries, and maxed out credit cards seem to indicate this time of year. Which makes one wonder what Christmas is really all about. Is it just money? Is it just about the big parties, huge gifts and company bonuses? If we let it be, yes. But Christmas could be about so much more, and you get to decide what that more... is.
The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be some of the most difficult. We’ve experienced the joy in one holiday and now wait––hoping to survive––until the next one arrives. Work feels monotonous. Family obligations are just...obligations. And something inside us longs for more meaning to all of it. So how do we make the every-day parts of our lives better? It starts with one simple truth: we can’t.
What do you call it when you get more than you need? When you get more than you thought you would? Bonus! More for us, right? There’s no such thing as too much fun, too much sleep or too much money in our world. This requires the assumption though, that extra and bonus are the same thing. Is it possible that God gives us extra to benefit someone besides us? Is it possible there’s a deeper purpose for the extra than just having it?
We have a tendency to think that everything we do or consume should be done or consumed at maximum capacity. Eat all you can eat. See all you can see. Spend all you can spend. Unfortunately it’s usually only at the maximum level that we realize it may not have been the wisest thing to do. In fact, sometimes we go over the max, causing more trouble than good. What if God means for us to live just shy of maximum, and discover the best life is in the gap.
In the classic Christmas movie, It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey was the richest man in town, but he didn't know it. In fact, he was quite miserable "doing the right thing," but becoming weary and worn because of it. It literally took divine intervention for George to see the kind of life that he had been given. The interesting thing is that he had access to this life the whole time. He was missing it even though it was right there for the taking and the enjoying.
There is an important difference between these two: (1) I don’t believe. (2) I don’t want to believe. Did you lose faith over something that happened? Something you read? Or did you decide to stop believing because faith got to be inconvenient and then you began gathering data to support your unbelief? Is it possible this isn’t a matter of existence as much as it is of resistance? Perhaps it’s time to take another look…