I wrote this post one year ago, and the message has continued to shape my view on life. As the holidays begin, think about what we were truly made for.
It’s Christmas Eve. For many years this was a day of torturous anticipation for me. I would be waiting eagerly to see what was in those boxes under the tree. But it wasn’t just the presents that mattered. I got to spend time with all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. Yes, I actually enjoy spending holidays with family. I just happen to have the best family there is.
Christmas was always full of fun times! But the worst part was that it always had to end. I had to start school again. And the toys I got were never fun to play with for more than a week. My excitement was built up then brought down. I didn’t feel satisfied.
Then last year the Christmas cheer in my house was overshadowed by the death of a family member. I wondered how we could celebrate Christmas after the tragedy that had taken place. During that season, God taught me a lesson. We expect so much out of Christmas. We expect our families to come home. We expect to get a day off. We expect to get everything on our list. We expect everyone to get along. We expect the food to be good. We expect perfection. How many Christmases have we gotten it?
You see, our attitude toward Christmas is one of the signs that we were made for something better. We have this idea of the way things are “supposed to be.” Apples are supposed to be crisp and sweet. Steak is supposed to be tender and juicy. Christmas is supposed to be joyful and peaceful, and there’s supposed to be snow.
Naturally, when we place such high expectations on everything, we are constantly met with disappointments. The steak is overdone. The apple is soft and mushy. It sleets instead of snowing. What are we supposed to do about it? Just accept that life sucks and resolve to be miserable? Not at all! That’s not the way God wants us to live.
The proper attitude toward life in an imperfect world has two parts. The first part is found in Colossians 3: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” God has a wicked awesome home prepared for us. It’s called heaven. If you want to know what it’s like read the last chapter or so of Revelation. Yes, it’s poetic language, but it gives us an idea of how wonderful our next life will be. Everything you didn’t get in this life will be repaid tenfold in heaven. You’d have better luck trying to buy all your gifts on Christmas Eve than you would trying to find heaven on earth. As I learned in one of my college classes, this is called over-realized eschatology. If your wish is for “no more lives torn apart, and wars would never start, and time would heal all hearts” you’re going to have to wait for heaven.
On the other hand, we can still have joy now while we’re on the earth. The second part of our attitude is to appreciate the blessings we have in life. Sometimes we bite into an apple that’s just perfect, or we open a gift that is just so special. These are reflections of heaven. We tend to miss them because they are usually swallowed up by the worries, tragedies, and disappointments of life. Life is not joy-less. To think so is under-realized eschatology. We need to take note of the simple pleasures in life, and thank God for them. As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
So what are we made for? According to my professor, we were made for “now and not yet.” We should appreciate the gifts God has given us now and eagerly await the gifts he has yet to give us. I hope you get a chance to think about this during your Christmas festivities.