Jesus isn’t Santa.

Jesus isn't Santa

Jesus isn’t Santa.

If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you may have noticed I’ve been asking God some questions– mostly the “Why?” question to be exact. I’ve also admitted that I need help. The struggle has been real. Gut wrenching, anxiety inducing, don’t want to get out of bed….REAL. Praying has been difficult. Hope has seemed just beyond my reach. Regardless of that, I’ve continued to pray, continued to seek Hope and held on for dear life.

Thankfully, I’ve had numerous friends, who are much wiser and much more stable than I am, come alongside me acting as a practical conduit of God’s love. After talking in length to one such friend, she asked me “What lie are you believing about the character of God?”

Huh. Well, you see I went to Bible school. I have a degree in Bible AND theology. I’ve read the Bible through front cover to the maps in the back. Not just once, either. Numerous times. I don’t say that because I think I’m awesome stuff, but to make a point that I’ve made before– I KNOW a lot of stuff about God. Sometimes that head knowledge doesn’t translate correctly. Sometimes you can know all the right stuff, but be living as though that stuff isn’t true.

Like the Truth that Jesus isn’t Santa.

Sure, Jesus wears hippie sandals and a robe (usually a white one). He’s got a beard and hands calloused from a long day in the wood shop. He smells a little fishy, but the kids are ok with it and come to Him anyway. Santa on the other hand wears a furry suit and shiny black shoes. He’s got a beard too, but its white and contains cookie crumbs and milk dribbles. He’s got a labor force to do the hard work for him, but gets all the glory for making the deliveries. Kids like him, too.

Everyone knows that Santa is keeping track of who is naughty and who is nice. He’s got an alphabetized list with all of our names on it. He’s always watching us and he’s keeping score. He saw me doing 64 in a 55 this morning. He heard the words I mumbled when I opened my car door and snow fell on my seat. All that before 8:30 a.m. Suffice to say, I’ll be getting coal for Christmas.

With all that Bible knowledge I have, I know Jesus is aware of all that stuff too. He knows my thoughts (I’ve heard Santa isn’t a mind reader), which exponentially increases my naughtiness I assure you. With everything that’s been going on, well, with my entire life as the gauge I’ve been living as though Jesus IS keeping score. He’s so stinkin’ good at math and easily sees I’m not measuring up. Since I’m bad He’s keeping some gifts from me. Like a husband. Like a miracle check in the mail to pay these medical bills. Like a new car.  (Insert whatever it is you’ve been asking for and not getting)

All of that– its all warped. Jesus is very much aware of everything I do, say, and think. He isn’t some sadistic moral score keeper though. He doesn’t take pleasure in my mess ups or failures thinking its one less kid to bless. Actually, He loves to give good gifts. Not the Target clearance aisle gifts either, but the top of the line, A-grade stuff. One of my favorite things to do is find the perfect gifts for those I love and can barely contain my excitement as they open it. We’ve already determined that I’m not perfect or even a very good person, and if that’s how I feel– how much MORE does God love giving gifts. He’s just as amped up with anticipation as He says, “Hurry up! Open it! I can’t wait for you to see it!”

And His greatest gift towards me isn’t a 60k income, a new hybrid Nissan or a sexy bearded lumberjack husband. It’s Himself.

In giving Himself for me, He moved my name from the naughty list to the redeemed list. My sins are no longer counted against me, but have been assigned to Jesus. That transfer makes me wholly accepted and fully pleasing to a holy, righteous God. Not by my works (or prayers) but all because of Jesus.

Wasted Fruit

fruitOn my way to the mailbox everyday for the past few months, I’ve seen a pear tree and a grape vine in my neighbor’s yard. Both the tree and the vine were full of beautiful, ripe fruit ready to be picked. The days when the sun offered a nice autumn warmth, I could literally smell the grapes as the gentle breeze wafted the scent to my nose.

Each day, I expected to see that the tree had been picked. But each day as I walked by, the bushels of fruit would continue to hang there in almost a taunting fashion. Why weren’t these people picking that fruit? I’d ask myself.

What a waste?! I’d mumble as I passed. At one point, I was so upset over the fact that the fruit hadn’t been picked that I had debated going to the neighbors and asking them if I could pick the fruit. I figured they might think I was nuts for making such a request, so I decided against it.

As the days passed, the pears began dropping to the ground. One after another, sitting there rotting away. The grapes were being stolen by the occasional squirrel, but eventually our first heavy frost destroyed them as well.

We can be like that pear tree and grape vine. We’ve been given all these amazing gifts, talents, skills, and tools (fruit) but for some reason we just let them be. They just hang there unused when they could be bringing people pleasure and enjoyment.

Why do we do this? Well, some people feel disqualified. They look at their life, the things they’ve done in the past, and they decide they aren’t good enough. That somehow they’ve got to get their crap together before they can actually do something. Sometimes its fear that creeps in and debilitates us. Or insecurities screaming “You can’t possibly do that.”

And then there’s the excuses, which can include: I’m shy. I lack resources. I’m tired. I don’t have the time. I’ve got kids. I’m old. I’m broke. I’m too young. So-and-so can do it better than me. I’m feeling gassy today. My bangs are going through that awkward grow-out-phase. I didn’t go to college.

I’ve just got to ask you: Why NOT you? Why NOT now? All the fears, insecurities and excuses don’t measure up to the God that lives inside of you. The God that lavished you with the unique gifts and skills that you have. And even if I wanted to, I can’t come pick your fruit, you’ve got to do that for yourself. He gave them to YOU.

Please, don’t let your fruit get wasted. Share them with the world, or even just the person you meet at the grocery store. Either way, USE THEM.