“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
As January draws to a close, the memories of Christmas begin to fade. For many folks January is a hard month. After all, It follows the most festive time of the year. It’s a time when expectations are high and may or may not have come true. Ironically, sometimes the joy of Christmas leave us feeling the “letdown”. It is a time when the experience of Christmas may remind us of the disappointments of this world. Yes, even at one of the most festive, beautiful , meaningful times of the year. We have such high expectations in the things of this world and recapturing the child-like awe of Christmas is something we all long for. The lights, the packages, and the tinsel most likely will never have the same effect on us as adults as it does when we were young.
I remember as a young child lying under the tree… you know when you first put it up and there are no presents yet? I would look up into the tree (hey and remember this was back in the 70s) and our tree was a white “flocked tree” with green and blue balls and lights. It was beautiful and so “groovy”. I loved the way the lights reflected off of the balls and how peaceful and beautiful it looked up inside the tree. However, no matter how many trees I crawl under these days, I will never see it the same way. I have seen too much pain, known too much disappointment. It is time for me to let go of the things of my childhood and become that person that passes down my hope, my love, and my joy to the younger generations. This world is a fallen world; we will never be as innocent as when we were young. Our hearts know too much now.
Christmas is for children…they deserve happy times, lights and tinsel. Children live in the innocence of the Garden or at least as close to it as possible in this fallen world. Albeit this innocence lasts for only a short time. Therefore, Christmas lights and a new toy can make a child’s Christmas, this changes as we get older. Innocent activities become more difficult because not only do we learn more about the struggles of this world, we are exposed more to the evil of this world. Our hearts start to long for more, to see the broken ways that people relate to one another, the influences of evil on this world and our hearts begin to yearn for something better. We strive to make it better because it can be so disappointing. We end up working 5x harder to get what we think will make everyone, including ourselves happy, only to find out that happiness is fleeting.
Re-read the verse at the top of this writing from John 16:33. It tells us to “TAKE HEART” for He has overcome this world! God offers us so much more than this world; He offers us hope and joy! The hope in knowing that this is not our home and the joy of realizing what is to come…the ultimate gift of all! I am so grateful to God that He gave me the glimpses of the Christmas tree that I had when I was a child. Why? Because, now I know that as a child that Christmas tree caught my gaze, whereas soon, the streets paved with gold, and the Glory of the Lord will shine so brightly that there will be no comparison. I can only imagine that someday I will be staring into the face of Christ, seeing the awesome beauty of Heaven, and remember the lights of the Christmas tree and they will be a distant, sweet memory. Keep your eyes on heaven where your true happiness will be complete!