When I was a little girl I loved to go to the public library with my mama. We would go down the outside stairway to the children’s library and I would always head for the table that I knew had the big book of fairies on it. It was not a book we could check out so I would sit there for a long time looking at all the pictures of the beautiful fairies and their fairy houses and fairy land. In my four to six-year-old mind I was sure those fairies existed and I longed to find them and see for myself, up close and personal, their houses and gardens and villages. Still today, I would love to see that book but I have no idea what the title of it is.
When I began losing teeth, my parents would put that tooth under my pillow and assure me the tooth fairy would come get the tooth and leave some money for me in return. They told me the fairies needed the teeth for the ivories on their little pianos. I would go through torture to get a tooth pulled so the tooth fairy could come get it and give me a dime. Yes. A dime! Children’s teeth were really not worth that much back then. I hear the price has gone up significantly these days.
Of course, I was always excited about Santa Claus and believed for sure that he was real. I was absolutely convinced I heard his sleigh bells ringing one Christmas night and I tried so hard to see him out the window but always fell asleep before he came. When I was nine, a disturbing thought came to me. I was staying overnight at my grandmother’s house and this idea filled my mind. I asked my grandmother, “Do you think Santa is really my parents, just pretending to be Santa, and that all those presents are from them?” She eased her way out of that situation by saying I should talk to my mother about it. So, I did, and mom told me the truth, making me promise not to tell my brother and ruin Christmas for him.
But see, he was the brother just a little younger than me. He was my best friend and I told him everything. (It’s also possible that I was happy to know something before he knew and wanted him to hear it from me). So, of course, I told him. And what did he say? “I already knew that!” Whether he did or not, he never shared. But I was a little disappointed that he said that. I really didn’t believe him and I felt some sense of sorrow somewhere deep inside my soul for breaking the hard, bitter truth to him. The stories of fantasy are fun and, even knowing they aren’t real, can take both children and adults to adventurous places in our imagination.
Today, we Christians seem to be in the minority group in the world. I was told 20 years ago that we were living in a “post-Christian era.” I did not want to believe it but as we listen and witness so much being torn down of even our Christian symbols, it is obvious that we are, for sure, in that post-Christian era. It breaks my heart!
So, what is it that about the Christian faith that is any different than believing in fairy tales, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus? How do you, as a Christian, separate those beliefs? I believe, first of all, that the words of the Holy Bible are the “living, inspired Word of God.” And while God relied on humans to write the words, they are not the words or thoughts of humans, but of God through the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit is involved there is power and assurance that these words are real and true.
The fantasy stories of our childhood somehow become easy to let go of as we mature. They are fun memories and yet we come to know they are just made up stories for children. But if we have open hearts and willing minds to stay tuned in to God, the Holy Spirit pours into us the gift of faith that grows stronger as we age. Paul described faith as having … confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) I think that faith in a God we do not see yet somehow come to know and believe in; that faith in a Savior that was God incarnate, who came to earth in human form to teach us and to bring us close to God by his example of love and grace; to believe that we have eternal life through Jesus’ death and resurrection; and that there is a place where our souls live forever with God – that kind of faith can only exist by the power of the Holy Spirit.
For some of us, believing is easy. I grew up in a Christian home where faith was taught, where my mother came to each of us at night and sat as we prayed before bed, where worship and Christian education was a main part of our lives and the church family was our greatest social community. There has never been a time when I did not believe in God and in salvation through Christ. As I grew, there were certainly questions and yet seeking answers always led me to a stronger belief.
Some people do not grow up in the faith yet they, like the Apostle Paul, have that sudden “I see the light” conversion experience. It’s hard not to believe when you have a powerful moment like that.
And then there are others who struggle, or refuse, to believe. Some of those claim that the stories of faith are as much a fantasy as Santa Claus. But that does not mean that God has given up on them. There could be a moment that changes everything. God is full of grace and love and I believe is continuously working through the Holy Spirit to bring all people to himself.
I believe in God who … so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) We are God’s beloved children, blessed with faith that gives us so much. Be open and be of strong faith. God will never fail you. Paul writes:
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
I hope you listen and will be blessed by the song Cindy Powell sings. It’s titled “I Believe.”