I love Christmastime! There is so much to enjoy — time with family and friends, the music of the season, the decorations and lights, wonderful food, nice presents, and…
From wonderful, timeless classics like A Christmas Carol (Alastair Sim), White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and It’s A Wonderful Life, to animated favorites like Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and A Charlie Brown Christmas, these Christmas movies bring back memories of long-ago, transporting us to other places and innocent times. Add to these more recent films such as The Santa Clause series, A Christmas Story, and Elf, and you’ll either be crying tears of nostalgia or laughing tears of joy.
One such movie that came out in 2004 was The Polar Express, based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg. It is the story of a boy who, on the verge of not believing in Santa Claus anymore, takes a ride on the magical Polar Express, and visits the North Pole one Christmas Eve. What starts out with a boy who no longer believes — and actually hesitates to even get on the train in the first place — ends with a fantastical trip to Santa’s workshop, and the great Christmas Eve sendoff, where he is personally given a gift by Santa. No longer in doubt, the boy becomes a “true believer” in Santa.
As the train returns him to his home, and he says goodbye to his new friends, the Conductor turns and says these words to the young boy:
One thing about trains… It doesn’t matter where they’re going.
What matters is deciding to get on.
As I have often alluded to in my blog, truth comes from odd sources with unlikely messengers. This time of year, that very truth is more obvious than ever, starting over 2,000 years ago with a group of shepherds as the unlikeliest of messengers — sharing the news that the angels proclaimed, and the witness of what they had seen with their own eyes.
Making the decision to relinquish the “engine” of your life to Jesus is full of uncertainty. Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we are immune to the bad stuff that life throws at us. I have presided over more funerals than I can count — people who have been the victims of, not just old age, but cancer, heart attacks, car accidents, bullet wounds, and drug overdoses. When we sign up for the Spirit-led life, we would do well to remember the words of Jesus…
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” ~ John 3:8
The Spirit-led life is full of uncertainty. There is no guarantee of good health, unshakable happiness, financial prosperity, or immunity from any other disaster.
That is, unless you are looking “beyond the veil”… beyond the borders of our finite minds and the constraints of time itself.
Here is what surrendering to the will of Jesus, and living a life controlled by His Spirit does guarantee, however…
Eternal life. Surrendering to Jesus, and accepting His finished work on the cross (salvation) guarantees your place in Heaven. (John 3:16)
Peace. Relying on Him as your sufficiency and source is the gateway of the path to peace. Peace with God means that, regardless of what shaky ground we are standing on in this world, our position with Him is never in doubt.
Hope. We hear a lot about hope, but all this world can offer (at best) is a cheap imitation. REAL hope begins and ends with a right relationship with God, and has eternal ramifications… beyond world peace, job security, climate change, and health and wellness. (Hebrews 6:19)
Joy. Not the same thing as happiness, real joy comes from knowing Christ. The very thought of His abiding presence, and the hope that He gives us invokes a joy that the world has no influence or control over. Joy in spite of circumstances. Joy in spite of pain. Joy in spite of sorrow.
These things await the life that is surrendered to Christ.
Can I explain it all to you? No.
That is what living the life of faith is about. After all, if I, or anyone else, could explain it, where would faith come into the equation? One thing I can guarantee you, however, is that there is no peace, no hope, and no joy that can compare to the love and life that Jesus offers.
So this Christmas, if you would like to surrender your life to Christ for the first time, I invite you to pray this prayer…
Dear Lord Jesus,
Please come into my heart, forgive me of my sin, and save me.
Wash me and cleanse me. Set me free. Jesus, thank You that You died for me. I believe that You are risen from the dead and that You’re coming back again for me. Fill me with the Holy Spirit. Give me a passion for the lost, a hunger for the things of God and a holy boldness to share Your love with others.
I’m saved, I’m born again, I’m forgiven and I’m on my way to Heaven because I have Jesus in my heart.
If you prayed that prayer, leave me a note below, and share your decision with me so that I can rejoice with you.
If you wanted to pray that prayer, but still have questions, or if you are already a Christian and need to walk deeper with God, just remember: It doesn’t matter where you think the journey will take you… only God knows the answer to that.
What matters is taking the first step of faith, “getting on the train”, and deciding to start the journey with Him.