Well it’s that magical time of year again. If you are reading this blog I’d guess you are well beyond the excitement that you had as a child on Christmas morning. Oh yes, we still get excited with things as adults; however, such is hardly comparable to how it was as a youngster.
Some may choose to forgo Christmas in their household whether due to theology or personal preference. That’s up to them. However, I’ve long believed that to choose such a path is to miss an opportunity to make precious family memories and to have times of excitement and laughter. We had Christmas growing up; we did so with our children and I would unhesitantly recommend such to others.
That being said, there is something that I remember about the joy I had as a child. I’m curious as to whether others felt the same way. As little guys my brother and I would wait and wait and wait for Christmas to come. Each year there was a “big gift” that we had wished for – one year a slot-car track, another year a basketball goal, still another year a small pool table. So again, we’d wait and wait in anticipation of that time when we’d get to open our gifts. When Christmas morning finally arrived, the presents were opened – it was wonderful!
Now here’s what I noticed as a youngster, but did not understand until I was a Christian. While the excitement and joy of opening our gifts is among some of the greatest times for a young child, it was short lived. We’d tear open our gifts, grab our toys and off we’d go to play. It wasn’t long, however, perhaps the next day or maybe even later on Christmas day, after everything settled down, I recall feeling this vague sense of emptiness. “How could that be?” I thought as a child. Now I realize that, while we had our stuff, the joy of anticipation was over. Isn’t it interesting that there was more joy in the anticipation of the presents than in having actually acquired the presents?! Friends, this is where God comes in.
I was reading an article in which the writer referenced the famed Austrian psychologist Carl Jung who once wrote about life without God: “Those psychiatrists who are not superficial have come to the conclusion that the vast neurotic misery of the world could be termed a neurosis of emptiness. Men cut themselves off from the root of their being, from God and then life turns empty, inane, meaningless, without purpose. So when God goes, goal goes. When goal goes, meaning goes. When meaning goes, value goes, and life turns dead on our hands.” Wow, isn’t that interesting? A “neurosis of emptiness” is the problem of the world. And I’d bet, looking back, that to a slight degree as a child in my post-Christmas blahs I was experiencing a “neurosis of emptiness.”
Which brings us to the beauty of the Gospel. The Gospel is about hope. The Gospel is about anticipation. The Gospel is about Jesus Christ – a historical character whose existence was foretold by some 400 ancient Old Testament prophecies, who was
rejected, delivered up and crucified, resurrected, ascended only to be seated on the right hand of God the Father. It was this Jesus who said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (Jn. 15:11)
Earthly joy is fleeting and attempting to live for such is like trying to catch bubbles. It just can’t be done. So what is it that you want for your life? Are you going to live day in and day out with an ongoing, ever-present “neurosis of emptiness,” OR are you going to follow God and be filled with His Spirit? As for me, my goal is for those days of neurotic emptiness to continue to be a thing of the past. True joy can only be found in Him!
You are loved!