Since I am writing this in the midst of the Christmas season, my mind often turns nostalgic to Christmas’ past.
When we were raising our kids, we didn’t emphasize Santa, but neither did we discourage it. Santa at Christmas was and still is, an integral part of Christmas in America. There are songs, people dressed like the jolly, fat man in malls, and sleighs with reindeer being driven by him. He’s just all over Christmas. You cannot avoid him.
My daughter was about six, when we had this little discussion sometime before Christmas day.
“What is it Meredith?”
Hesitating, she said, “I’m not sure I still believe in Santa.”
“Oh? Really?” I was trying hard to take this very seriously.
“But I’m afraid not to.”
Isn’t that the truth? Fear that something might not be real. Because there are consequences to not believing. In her mind, if she didn’t believe, the presents might stop.
It started in Seminary, this inner analysis of what I believe. Then I began to attend a church whose doctrinal stances were sometimes at odds with the beliefs I held so dear. I entered seminary and this church, firmly convinced that my beliefs were solid and inflexible. As I mingled in a variety of “Christian” settings, I met other Christians who believed and practiced their faith differently than I did.
While I am convinced that these experiences have opened my eyes to the variety in Christian expression and given me more acceptance towards those who have legitimate traditions different than my own, I can see the balancing is sometimes not in my best interest. In many ways, I love the mixture of Christian customs. I think they have added in a full way to my journey with God. But they have also taken a toll on me. I have wondered anew who this God is that I have put my trust in. What does my faith look like?
Things I used to hold so dearly have come into question:
Is God really Sovereign? What does that look like?
Is he active in my life?
Will he make something good out of something bad?
Will he keep me safe?
As I pondered these questions over the last few years, recently something was revealed to me: I really want to believe in God, the One who is Sovereign, who is present and active, whose hand is on all the situations of my life, the one who will keep me safe in the realm of his Kingdom. I want to believe that God is good and that he wants the very best for me. For my life, there is no other way.
And yet lately, the enemy has had a heyday in my life with a series of disappointing and distressing occurrences. The doubts the evil one has whispered in my ear are serious, and destructive. He brings lies that cause me to be afraid. And fear has consequences.
That is so contrary to what the Bible teaches over and over …. and over again:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. ~ Psalm 56:3
When I am afraid, I am weak and vulnerable.
When I believe, I am strong and powerful.
What has been revealed is that I need to choose to believe, every day. And it’s okay to believe as I have been taught out of the tradition in which I was instructed, because this belief system forms a solid base for me to go to when I am afraid.
I guess you could say it is my creed of belief.
Perhaps this year I will make a resolution. It can be my practice for the year. I will say my creed of belief every day. Each day will become a new day of believing, and with this creed comes the ability to train my thought patterns, and develop the ability to relinquish any hold the evil one may try to gain on my life.
“I believe in God the Father, Almighty….”