A Christmas Carol. Every Single Day.
Last night Katie and the boys and I attended the play A Christmas Carol performed by a company of local actors and actresses at Randolph Macon College in Ashland. The play takes place in the tiny and intimate Cobb Theater on the campus. It's been performed the past 25 years, and for many, attending it has become a family tradition. I had one friend tell me last night she's attended all 25 years.
If you've been alive for more than a few Christmases, you're familiar with the story. Scrooge, a chronically unhappy and miserable human being, is visited by 3 ghosts. The ghost of Christmas past takes him on a journey to show him he's responsible for his own misery. The ghost of Christmas present shows him the true impact of his un-Christmasy attitude on those around him today. And the ghost of Christmas future paints a picture of his sad and mostly unnoticed future demise.
There are many themes to this classic, but the main one I always take away is it's never too late to change.
As I watched and contemplated the play last night, it occurred to me my life is a mix of the stories Groundhog Day and A Christmas Carol. Each and every day, A Christmas Carol plays out in my life. Every. Single. Day. I'm visited by each of the ghosts that haunt Scrooge in his nightmare turned redemption.
I can't count how many times each day the ghosts of my past try to remind me of the mistakes I've made. The people I've hurt and neglected. With all their might they try to convince me today is useless; I'll never undo the damage I've done. They are fully committed to standing guard against the hope that's trying to dive headfirst into my life.
All the while the ghosts of the present battle each other for my attention. The ghosts of finances and social media and work and bad habits and vices all go to war with one another. And me. Their ultimate objective? My devotion. The longer they keep it, the more likely it is they disrupt my commitment to my faith and family and friends.
And as if there's room for another ghost, in pops the ghost of the future. He may have the easiest job, but potentially the most devastating one. His job is to keep me so worried about all of the things months and years into my future that I'll use relatively little energy making a difference today. When will I retire. How will I put my kids through college? Will I develop a dreadful disease? Will anyone like this blog post? All of these questions and more he lobs into my mind and soul like hand grenades, hoping they'll blow to smithereens any plans I have for focusing on the things I can touch and impact today.
My life really is A Christmas Carol. That is.... until I get focused on THE Christmas story.
Jesus came, that baby in a manger, to lob his own destruction on our ghosts. He reminds us every day that he's erased our past. Our pasts are not to be used for regrets but for wisdom-building. As for our present, he simply says follow me. I've given you two simple commands. Love God. Love one another. Any direction outside of that really is a ghost. It's imaginary and pointless. And as for our future. Our future is an eternal life with the manger and the throne. Pointing our lives toward anything else is a useless worry. It's an absolute dead end.
We spend so much of our lives lamenting the joy we've missed out on, fighting for joy this very day, and dreaming of future joys or constantly worrying we'll never find them. But true joy came to the world on Christmas day thousands of years ago. It lives in us today. It's alive an well no matter how badly our ghosts want it. And it is the only attainable joy that never ends.
A Christmas Carol is a promise it's never too late to change. I believe that. I believe in the Christmas story.
You can read previous entries from this 2015 Christmas series by following the links below:
Christmas 2015 - December 1
Christmas 2015 - December 2
Christmas 2015 - December 3
Christmas 2015 - December 4
Christmas 2015 - December 5
Christmas 2015 - December 6
Christmas 2015 - December 7
Christmas 2015 - December 8
Christmas 2015 - December 9