Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Little Girl, God is NOT Santa!

A daddy tucks his little girl into bed and they say their nightly prayers. The little girl begins, “Dear God, Thank you for this day, thank you for the yummy hamburgers daddy made, and thank you SO much for me eating all of my dinner so I could have chocolate ice cream for dessert. I LOVE chocolate ice cream! Now God, I have been really good to my brother even when he is mean to me, so I would really like some new clothes, longer hair, and a new bed spread. Even though mom and dad said they couldn’t afford it, I know that you can do anything! Amen”

Her father sighs and looks into her innocent little face and says, “Little girl, God is NOT Santa Claus and today is not Christmas morning. He doesn’t give you things just because you are good, and take things away just because you are bad.”

20 years later I still smile when I remember having this conversation with my dad. “God is not Santa!” I look around at people that have this Santa view of God. When they find lumps of coal in their lives they think God must be punishing them for their “ungodliness” and the unexpected blessings must be because they have been on fire for the Lord. I have several people in my family with that view of God. The problem is if you treat God like Santa, when the coal keeps coming you wake up to see Daddy in a red suit and lose your faith. Or at least that is what you think you see. Going to church and praying when life is good, and when things take a turn for the worse you get angry and blame God. “God, why did this happen? I don’t understand! I am faithful to you! I spread the word about your love! Then you turn around and give me a stinking lump of coal!!! Why? I don’t deserve that! I deserve your blessings and your gifts! Why are you allowing this to happen to me?”

In my short years on this earth I have come to know God not as a present bringer but more as a gardener and we are His seeds. He gently tills the earth and prepares it for our arrival; He places us in the ground and shelters us with soil. He gives us nourishment, fertilizer (which doesn’t always smell nice but sure does make us grow), He waters us, and when the frost and strong winds come he covers us with a sheet of protection. That doesn’t mean that a little coldness doesn’t make it through, but without that how can He know how hearty we are? He battles tirelessly against weeds to keep them at bay, and when one gets in our garden He destroys it and pulls it out. He knows what we need to thrive. Some of us are vines and we need a trellis to cling too until we are strong enough to branch out on our own. Some of us are sunflowers and there is no stopping our growth, people can see us from far off and if you aren’t careful we can overshadow others, some of us are shade loving plants, we don’t need as much attention to grow and bloom, and we just need love and water. And then there is the beautiful rose that you have to wear gloves and battle thorns before you can get to the sweet smelling and gorgeous bloom. Through the painful pruning, and long winter months we face it is always our gardener that ensures our survival. We depend on Him for everything. And even though the clouds must come and occasionally cover up the Son, we know that the Son is still there waiting to break through the storm and smile down on us with His warmth.

Julia Ekpo

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