Alright guys, I had one of those revelatory experiences yesterday.
You know, the kind that are life-changing, perspective-changing.
Now usually those come on me like a new light being turned on for the first time, exposing things I had never thought of or showing them in a different light.
But this one wasn’t like those times.
No, this light had already been on once. It had always been there, slowly fading. Dimming out. Becoming forgotten, no longer able to guide or illuminate.
Well something happened yesterday that brought a resurge of energy, electricity, life into that forgotten bulb.
And it was something tiny and nearly insignificant.
But those things are often what seems to attract me the most. I have a hunch that God feels the same.
Anyhow, so I threw my ten-year-olds a Christmas party yesterday for English Class.
I decorated the room all Christmassy, wore all red and green, and brought a big bag of presents to hand out to them during some games.
Christmas isn’t a big deal in Japan–everyone goes to work and kids still go to school–so I’m not sure if any of my kids had ever really felt the Holiday Spirit (double entendre).
Well, I wanted them to get a taste of that magical comfort and peace that Christ brings so delicately every year during the celebration of his Son.
They loved it.
We played Christmas games. We listened to Christmas music. Not surprisingly, I taught them how to say “Merry Christmas!”
Near the end of class I pulled out all the Christmas presents and laid them on the table. The kids got all excited and ran to their chairs to sit quietly and wait for instruction (a Christmas miracle in itself).
There were cool Christmas whirly toys, Christmas window stickers, sketchbooks, stickers, you name it.
We played a game to decide the order of who got to choose, and one by one the presents were plucked off the table and taken gratefully back to their chairs.
I was pretty happy. The kids had all received their gifts which I had spent time to pick out. No one had rejected any of my gifts as lame or boring.
I began to pat myself on the back.
And so, because I was feeling the Christmas Spirit (and because I didn’t want to have to take the stuff home myself) I told my students they could all take whatever decorations they wanted home with them.
I had expected some of them to grab a few things half-heartedly and leave the rest for me.
What I hadn’t expected was for them to discard all of the shiny new toys and presents they had just received and turn to these insignificant decorations with about as much enthusiasm as you’d expect a man who’d been walking through the Sahara desert who’d just been handed a cold glass of water.
They took the fuzzy red, green, and silver streamers and made scarves, necklaces, and jump ropes out of them. They grabbed the ceramic Santa candle holder and held it to their chests like it was their new pet. The cheap plastic “Merry Christmas” door sign they hung on their chest like an emblem.
It took a second for me to understand why these things that I had considered next to glorified garbage were what caught their attention the most. Were what brought them the most joy.
I mean they had “real” toys with “real” value that someone had spent “real” money on.
And then it hit me.
These kids don’t have any concept of that yet. They don’t need money to buy things so they have no idea the monetary value that any of those things has. They haven’t been brainwashed into thinking that “because this costs more it has more value.”
I found barely any value in those things decorations because I had paid very little for them. But those kids didn’t know that.
They saw royal clothing and mini ceramic friends.
I know it sounds funny, but I had to hold back tears when I saw them so filled with joy with what I considered to be so little.
And then I started thinking, “Is this what we do to our relationship with God?”
We tell ourselves that unless we have greater value, God isn’t going to want to play with us.
That God is looking for the people with big hefty price tags because that is how He knows how much we are worth.
What a lie.
But we do it all the time.
The truth is all of our price tags should be marked with a big hefty zero and a label that says “Broken. Tainted. Dysfunctional.”
And yet God, in His infinite mercy and love has ripped off those labels and that condemning price tag and has slapped a shiny new one on us that reads “Priceless. Fit for a King.”
Well here I am, crying again. But I don’t know how to stop. Our God is too good.
So this Christmas season, stop trying to raise your value out of some desperate hope that God will notice you and pluck you off the shelf.
You’re already in his home with the rest of His favorite things.
And He wants to play with you.