When I was a kid, “Christmas” didn’t mean presents. It meant glittering ice trees; fresh, crisp air; houses and streets festive with colored lights and white-frosted windows.
My family was part of a cult that embraced a mishmash of various religions and practices, which meant that because of our version of the Jewish “Holy Days,” we didn’t celebrate Christmas. I was bummed that Santa appeared to have been told to skip our house on the night he flew around the world personally delivering gifts to “good” kids.
But I do have a childhood Santa memory, from when I was about six years old, that I’d like to share with you.
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Christmas Promises, Broken
I can recall this memory so clearly. I was at the shopping mall with my parents, begging them to let me sit on Santa’s lap, like all the other kids waiting in line. They finally agreed, but warned me that Santa wasn’t who I thought perhaps he was.
I can still feel the thrill of getting to tell him the gifts I wanted. And I distinctly remember him promising, “Ok! Look under the tree on Christmas morning!”
Christmas morning finally arrived. Waking early, I hurried into my snowsuit and boots and ran outside. But looking around, it dawned on me that I had a problem. Santa didn’t say which tree – and we had three!
Undeterred, I diligently searched beneath all three. And found nothing. Well, nothing beyond the trail of my circling footprints in the fresh snow. Santa did NOT deliver on his promise. Bah humbug! I marched my disappointed six-year-old self back into my house. My parents were right: Santa was NOT someone to put my trust in.
I share this childhood memory with you because, as Christians, we DO have someone we can trust. Someone who keeps His promises – and not just on Christmas – but all year: God! I have personally experienced His trustworthiness over the years.
Unlike Santa, who is a delightful but fictional character, God is real, always present, and always mindful of our wants and needs. And He wants a relationship with us, not just have us approach Him with our endless wish list.
As Josh McDowell shares in his best-selling book, More Than a Carpenter, Christianity is about coming to understand that the Creator of the universe invites us into this relationship through the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. Christianity is about putting our trust in God’s deep and ceaseless love for us.
As 2021 closes out, you might be thinking Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? If so, perfect timing! In January, we’re starting a new blog series, “More Than a Carpenter,” we think can be helpful to you as you seek answers for your big life questions.
Who Is Jesus? Come Find Out!
Basing our new series on Josh’s book, we’ll share some of the meticulous research Josh did as a college student to prove to himself that Jesus was a real, historical person. Was Jesus gruesomely tortured and crucified? Did He really supernaturally resurrect? Did He claim to be God? Josh wanted to see the historical facts.
As a diehard skeptic, he wasn’t about to buy into the “blind faith” on which many Christians seemed to base their belief. The idea that anyone could believe that God exists — or cares — seemed ridiculous to Josh. Were these individuals missing some brain cells?
Josh set out to disprove Christianity by showing the Bible to be factually unreliable. What did Josh’s evidence turn up? You’ll have to check out the new blog series to find out! We’re excited to take this journey with you!
Up For a Christmas Challenge?
Now, with my own kids, gift-giving is a fun part of our Christmas celebration. But we recognize the true meaning of Christmas isn’t about what Santa might do, but what Jesus has done. For all of us!
>> Join us in reading the first chapter of John, one of the four Gospel books in the Bible’s New Testament. For an immersive experience, read Chapter One three times, in these three translations: NIV, MSG, and NLT. (Hint: “The Word” is referring to Jesus.).
>> Read the story of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapters One and Two. The rich details will help you to see the story in your mind.
>> Online, you might also watch The Nativity Story movie, or episodes of The Chosen, a fabulous online series that shows Jesus launching His three-year ministry.
Christina Gordon is the digital marketing manager at the Josh McDowell Ministry.