The Sears & Roebuck Catalog’s arrival each year when I was a young child signaled the start of the Christmas season in our home. Santa was coming! Let the magic begin! Let the hope and faith Santa represented to me fly high and free.
By Christmas Eve the catalog was dog-earned and clearly showing the signs of three children pouring over it numerous times a day for two months making their wish lists. My list usually began and ended on the pages of Barbie products, especially the pages of clothes sets, some of which had dozens of outfits, shoes, purses, coats, suitcases absolutely everything a Barbie could dream of. (Or a Barbie owner.)
Not once did I ever get one of those Barbie clothes sets but I always got at least one thing off my wish list. I got enough to keep the fantasy of Santa alive. Being from a family where new toys and things were not common during the year so Christmas was truly out of the ordinary. It was truly magical.
Then the magic bubble busted. My parents told me Santa wasn’t real, that they were the ones who bought the gifts and put them under the tree. I still had to pretend to believe in Santa because my youngest sibling wasn’t old enough to know the truth yet, my parents explained. This gave me an excuse to wake up the household the moment my eyes opened after midnight Christmas Eve for a few more years to come but learning the truth about Santa destroyed much of Christmas for me until I learned what Christmas is really about. Meanwhile, my belief, my faith in Santa was lost.
Recently someone said to me, “I’ve lost my faith in God. I believed in Him and I made decisions based on what I believed about Him and His Word and look how my life has turned out”. I understand.
Whenever I hear someone state something about having lost their faith in God I remember losing my faith in Santa Claus. I remember the bitter disappointment. The years I spent struggling with what the purpose of Christmas was were insecure ones. I wondered how I could have been so duped and I wondered how my parents could have lied to me for eight years.
I recall too the disastrous time in our marriage when the fragile bubble of absolute trust shattered and rained down upon us I remember too. I remember thinking when my husband and I exchanged our vows that the one thing I’d never have to worry about was the very thing that shattered that trust. People are human and we are all flawed, we all make mistakes. No matter how much they may want not to the day is going to come when they let you down. For a while it felt like I was holding my breath, not in pain, but in fear that our love and our marriage couldn’t survive the loss of my faith that my husband would never hurt me like that, but it did. It did because of our belief in God that allowed us to pick up and move on from the moment that bubble shattered.
Come to think of it, that’s what changed Christmas for me too. Once I understood, really understood why we celebrate Christmas, the whole holiday changed for me. I’ve made the choice to observe Christmas because I choose to believe in the living God Jehovah.
There are a lot of common feelings and emotional investments between believing in Santa, people and God. But there are some glaring differences too.
So while I readily understand how a Christian can feel as if they’ve lost their faith in God it’s hugely different than losing your faith in the existence of Santa Claus or in the love of a person. Scriptures tell us, and if you believe in God then you must believe in the scriptures so well preserved for us through the centuries as well, that we have security in our belief in God, in our salvation. The relationship may become strained, we may grow angry with God over something, we will fail Him on a daily bases but we don’t lose Him.
Paul wrote in Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Again we are reassured by God’s message through Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
Jesus Himself assured us before He ascended into Heaven as recorded by Matthew in Matthew 28:20b; “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
If you, like my friend, are feeling that you’ve lost your faith I have one question for you, was your faith real to begin with? If so, it is not lost nor are you. It may be dormant. God may seem far, far away but He is right where you started off on your own.
Sometimes our faith in God takes on the semblance of a child’s belief in Santa Claus. We hear the stories and we belief what we’re told without questioning what we’re being taught. Never should we swallow whole what someone tells us in the Bible, or how to interpret what’s in the Bible without studying it yourself. The Bible tells us to “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12c-13)
No one is responsible for your relationship with Jesus other than Y-O-U! The danger is we can base our “faith in God” on shaking ground and lack a firm foundation. The rains and winds come and the storms blow in and our house falls in. (Matthew 7:24-27)
Then there are times we’re walking on firm ground but life throws us a curve, we step off into quicksand or fail to notice the warning signs of a mudslide ahead. Suddenly we are face to face with what screams at us is the proof the God we believe in doesn’t exist, at least not for you. And face it, this can quickly takes on a side of self-pity and woe-is-me.
Other times what we are facing is a glaring truth, we have never really believed at all. We’ve done all the right things, said all the right words, made all the right decisions, gone to church regularly, told others about God and managed to fool even ourselves about our relationship with God. Question for you now is will you face the deceit of your own life or keep running?
God is never further than a prayer away. He can’t be lost. We can’t be lost once He comes invited, into our lives and hearts. We can act more like a child than we’re comfortable admitting. Remember, God isn’t Santa Claus nor is He a human being.
He is the “I Am”, He has always been and He will always be.
Hold fast the true belief,