Friday, January 3, 2014

Better than Santa

Do you remember the great anticipation you felt on Christmas Eve when you were just a young child? You had written your letter to Santa and put in your order for his team of elves to fulfill. You had complete confidence in jolly old St. Nick bringing you all the toys and goodies on your list. After all, he had always come through before. Every Christmas morning was filled with boxes and bags that contained all the contents of your list. There was never any doubt that each year the list would be filled again.
So, the night before that blessed morning you laid out your cookies and tried your best to fall asleep. Excitement would grip you and lazy eyes were hard to come by. Finally, after much tossing and turning you would drift off. It was only then that Santa would shimmy down your chimney and lay out your precious gifts.
Awaking the next morning was magical. A tree that was once standing alone was now surrounded by gifts. A stocking was hung with delicate care, gifts peaking out from the top. Ribbons and bows were just begging to be untied. You couldn't wait to tear open the glistening wrapping paper and pull the wrapping paper from all the bags because  you knew your desired gifts were hidden inside.
Isn't it amazing how much confidence we put in Santa as children? For years we never questioned how Santa fit down the chimney or how he could possibly make it to every single house in one night. We accepted that Santa was special enough to make it all happen just the way we were told. We accepted the stories as truth and rested in that truth.
We put unshakable confidence in Santa but do we put that same confidence in God?
Are we not all guilty of praying to God with a half-hearted belief that He is truly listening? There are moments, sometimes frequent moments, where we doubt that God is actually working out our circumstances for our good. We expect God to be like Santa, fulfilling our desires down to the letter on a certain day on the calendar. When we open a present and see that it reveals something different then what we asked for we assume God didn't get the message, that He wasn't paying attention to our cries.
Our confidence in God is often on shaky ground. Even when we go to Him in prayer we can still be holding back part of our belief that He will fulfill that prayer.
I know this because I am terribly guilty of such lackluster faith. I cry out to God and yet, in the same breath, wonder whether or not He is truly listening. I doubt that the ups and downs in life are His marvelous plan or just a series of happenstance events. When my list doesn't get fulfilled I tend to get frustrated with God and my assurance in His consistency and faithfulness falters.
When I look at my pathetic level of confidence in my omnipotent, all powerful God I become ashamed at my lack of faith. How could I put so much stock in Santa as a child, a mythical character, and yet withhold confidence in God, the alive and real creator and ruler of the world?
Hebrews 4:16 serves as a much-needed reminder of the confidence that should be the bedrock of every believer. "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
Confidence. God wants confident faith. He wants us to approach Him with the unshakable belief that no matter what lay beneath the wrapping paper, no matter what the gift contains, we are certain that it is perfect. No matter what our circumstances or situation, God is asking us to shed the preconceived notions of what we think is best and cling to the fact that whatever is His will is truly best. 
Our confidence is easily shaken when we are basing it on getting what it is we think we want or what we think would benefit us the most. But God gives us what we need, what is best. He might not fulfill our wish list in the time frame we expect and some gifts might never come at all. What we receive is even better than the ideas we scratched out on paper or cried out in the night. God's will is carefully wrapped, each step on our path orchestrated with His all-knowing and loving hand. He sees what is best and makes sure that we receive it, even if it wasn't what was written on our list. 
Let us approach God with complete and total confidence in the giver of all good gifts. Tear up your wish-list and cling to God's perfect plan, knowing that what He can accomplish in your life is better than what you can comprehend. When we get caught up in expecting God to be Santa we lose heart when we don't get exactly what we wrote on our list. But God has a better list. He has a perfect list and He will fulfill it in His perfect timing.

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