The Stories That Shape Us
“Look for Christ and you will find him. And with him everything else.” -C.S. Lewis
“We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we’re of no use whatever to him.” -Romans 5:7-8 (MSG)
“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” -John 1:9-12 (ESV)
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” -Romans 8:1-2
Our Family’s Santa Experience
This past week, our family made the trek to a town near us to visit Santa Claus. It was already evening when we decided to head on over to meet the “Big Man”, and my husband and I were making conversation on how we thought our son would react to seeing Santa.
Being just over 14 months, both of us were pretty sure he wasn’t going to like it too much, but we still wanted to give it a try. He had forgone seeing Santa last year, and we wanted to make the effort this year, if only for a cute picture to show our son when he’s a little older.
My in-laws met us at the Santa Village. As we parked the car and walked around the building where Santa was stationed inside, we took in the cute window displays of animated puppets and Christmas villages. All of the displays made us pause, and appreciate the splendor, and the intricacy of each little character and the story that was told within a single window.
As we opened the door to the Santa village, we were greeted by an elf, or rather a high school girl dressed as an elf. She happily greeted us and asked who was coming to visit Santa. We told her our son’s name, and she smiled, and directed us down a hallway where we met another elf who greeted us. The high school girl slipped ahead to the room where we knew Santa would surely be, and we patiently waited and talked with the second elf as we continued to make our way down the slim, welcoming hallway.
My son was taking in all of where we were, and he had somewhat of a transfixed expression on his face as he went from looking at the Christmas photos on the wall, to the elves friendly faces, to the lights strung down the hallway. I’m sure he had no idea who he was about to encounter, but I certainly felt a sense of anticipation in wanting to see Santa and my son’s reaction to him.
What astonished me, as we walked along the hallway, was how I felt. I felt the nostalgia of my own childhood experience of going to visit Santa, seeing the man sitting in his sleigh, in his big red suit, and a joyful smile strung across his face, welcoming my brother and I up on his lap.
I remember Santa was happy to sit with us and talk with us. I remember realizing, “He knows my name!” I was amazed and blown away that this man cared for so many children, loved them, and delivered toys around the world to all the little boys and girls in one night. It seemed impossible, but at the young age of five or six, what other explanation could there be?
As we took those final few steps in the hallway, before we could see Santa, we could hear his, “Ho, Ho, Ho!” that was echoing from around the corner. And we heard him jingling the bells on his boots and on the wrists of his red coat. “Who do we have here?” He joyfully said, in his deep, belly-laugh of a voice.
It was then, we made our step into the room where Santa was seated on a large chair fit for a king. His smile was welcoming, his nose was just like they say in the books, cherry red. His beard was long and white, and his suit was velvety red. The magic and nostalgia of my childhood flooded back, and Santa was real once again, even if it was just for a moment.
Then, he joyfully said my son’s name- as if he already knew him. Obviously, the high school girl elf had run ahead to tell Santa my son’s name, but it almost took my breath away thinking of the magic that comes when children believe that “Santa knows my name”.
Unfortunately for my son, he did not think Santa was so pleasant, and he immediately burst into tears when he saw him. Thankfully, with a little consoling, we were able to snap a few precious photos. Most of them were of my son crying and reaching for Mommy and Daddy.
The Stories We Tell
In the stories, we tell our children, we explain how Santa knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you’ve been bad or good. And as children, we believe in this man who is beyond human, who loves us (even when we’ve been naughty), and is gracious to us just the same. He’s a man who seemingly sees all and knows all about us.
And I began to think about The Night Before Christmas classic children’s story, Santa’s character, and how the “Big Man” can be seen as a metaphor for an even bigger person and a bigger story.
The character of Santa is similar to the nature of God in that he has unconditional love for children, similar to the love that God has for His children. God displays his grace and mercy to His children despite their fallen nature.
And the story of Santa asks children to take a leap of faith- to believe. Santa’s story is just a tale. But, the idea of believing in something you cannot see or fully comprehend, relates back to God. God asks us to take a leap of faith- to explore who He is, to humble ourselves and acknowledge that there is a greater power than ourselves, and to invest our time on this earth in learning about who He is in all His glory. His story will change ours.
Santa’s story is one that tells us of how he travels around the world in one night to deliver gifts to good little boys and girls. Whereas, God’s story reveals that His one gift to the broken and sinful children of the world is THE life-changing and eternal gift that can compare to nothing else. It’s an undeserved gift that reveals the love of the Father.
God’s story is the greatest love story of all time. It’s a story that shows God’s true nature, and his desire for us to be reconciled to a perfect and holy God by sending His Son, Jesus.
It is in this time of year that we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but let us not forget the whole story.
Jesus’ miraculous birth, life, death, and resurrection are all a part of God’s story. And the story continues, as we are a part of the story.
And it’s up to us as to whether we will accept God’s gift.
The stories we continue to tell, mold us, shape us, and impact the way we live our daily lives. Let us not forget to share and reflect upon the one true story of love that changes who we are: The Story of Jesus.
The story of Jesus is one that needs to be told. It’s a life changing story because Jesus is the ultimate gift from an all-knowing, loving, and gracious Father.
He’s a Father who not only knows our names, but he knows everything about our very being. And how we choose to respond to the gift of Jesus, impacts us not only in this life, but for an eternity.
Listen to Their Story:
Tell Your Story.