What does it mean to believe?
When I was a child believing in Santa Claus ignited my imagination. The adults in my life perpetuated the myth by saying they thought they heard reindeer or saw sled tracks in the snow. I was totally drawn in. Why? I think every child has a capacity to let his or her imagination be captured by the unknown. As children, the mysterious holds our imagination.
When I was a teenager a very long time ago, believing in flying saucers along with a lot of Sci-Fi movies was the rage. Not that I ever believed in them, but I wondered. The scary notion of the unknown fed my imagination. I wanted to have my own flying saucer so I could buzz over to friend’s houses whenever I wanted. It was one of my first sensations of wanting something that was way beyond me.
As we grow older reality sets in. We realize we’ve been duped by a combination of fantasy stories that were told to us and our own overactive imagination. It’s part of growing up. Our old longings and fears are replaced by new ones. But often our ability to let ourselves believe in things we cannot see, things that are way beyond us can be inhibited. The disappointments or distractions of the real world can hinder our ability to believe.
When God became human one of the most startling things ever to occur happened. The apostle John said, “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” God came and lived among people. He lives in your neighborhood, your street and in your home. The prophet Isaiah looked forward to a new day when God would come down and rescue his people. He declared that One would come whose name is Immanuel meaning “God with us”. Can you believe it? God with you right now as you sit and read, in your room, in the middle of your projects and in your family –as good or messy as it is. God with you in your loneliest times and in your deepest longings. That kind of believing is something more fantastic than an imaginary elf in a red suit or beings from another world with large eyes and green skin. John again announces, “All who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… children born of God.” This is far more than a belief that God exists. It is to stake your whole life on it. To believe is to trust in a relationship that is actively present in everything you do and everywhere you go. God moves into your life and everything changes. It changes you. You become a child of God.
Right now think about the nearness of God. At Christmas, every tree, every light and all the music can be God saying to us all, “I am here. Only believe – and all the love and joy and hope of Jesus coming is yours. Believe you are dearly loved as my own child.” Stop right now and let his love quiet you, calm you and reassure that He is with you.