Well it’s over.
The Advent wreath is gone. The presents are opened. The tree is dead. Time to pack up the lights and the decorations for another eleven months. It is year end. Look back, sum up, have closure.
Our frazzled emotions and unrealistic expectations of a perfect holiday leave us as prime candidates for a flu bug or winter depression – or both. It doesn’t take long for the let down feeling of post-Christmas to hit. At my house it was approximately 11:23a.m. Christmas morning when my oldest realized that Santa really wasn’t going to bring the puppy she wanted.
I held my daughter and let her cry out her disappointment. “Why didn’t Santa give it to me? I was really good! I would take care of it! It’s what I wanted the most! It was on my list! I didn’t ask for much!! He must not care about me!!!”
It was somewhere in the midst of explaining the many costs of a pet and defending Santa’s choice – what is best for a puppy, its needs, our busyness, the chewing, shedding, house breaking, food, shots, etc. – when I really heard what Brianna had said. Her cries and conclusions about Santa sounded way too familiar. Replace the Santa with God: “Why didn’t God give it to me? I was really good! I would take care of it! It’s what I wanted the most, on my short little list…He must not care about me!!!!”
We become discouraged with God, thinking He doesn’t care because we don’t see the things on our list being sent by express mail. Without being able to count the cost, we submit our list and try to be good so that the jolly ol’ Deity will dispense nice things to us regularly without expecting anything in return. I am guilty. Our whole culture is guilty: we want a Santa, not a Lord.
But there is a cost involved in accepting God. We turn over control to the One who sees the big picture – and we trust. We are challenged to live more honestly, less selfishly, more reflectively. It can be uncomfortable being loved by a God who sees our full potential and pushes us to fill it. It sometimes hurts and sometimes frees. There is a definite difference between a daily God and an annual Santa.
The idea of cost became clear when I began thinking about Advent. I looked up advent in the dictionary. It wasn’t very helpful, but just after Advent Sunday is the word adventure. Here is the definition: An undertaking of a hazardous nature; a risky enterprise; an unusual experience or course of events marked by excitement and suspense: participation in hazardous or exciting experiences. To venture, risk, dare.
That’s the difference! Santa is a dispenser, but God is an adventurer! It was true for each story of Advent: Mary undertaking a hazardous assignment. Zechariah involved in a risky enterprise. The shepherds with their unusual experience. Jesus setting into motion a whole series of events marked by excitement and suspense. The month of Advent did not lead up to the end of the year: it leads up to a birth, a new beginning. Advent to Adventure. We have celebrated the birth of Jesus, and now we are invited to venture into a life of risk and daring with him. Don’t settle for Santa. Be adventuresome. It doesn’t mean we will never get things we want, but it might mean that what we want will change.
Become an adventurer – but be warned: it will cost you your whole life.