Christmas is one of those times, every year, where your vision of the future draws closer and closer until you can no longer see past one seemingly important day. The ever approaching nearness of a major day like this one can cloud your vision of the days that follow. Our sight becomes shortened.
If you are a parent, you definitely understand this. Christmas demands so much: lists of names and corresponding gifts, parties to attend, stores to brave, meals to cook, rooms to decorate, toys to assemble, memories to make, pictures to share, and traditions to uphold. Just making it to the day seems like the biggest Christmas present of all, because it is finally over!
And when it ends, when the torn paper settles and the Christmas carols fade, we find ourselves right where we were a month ago, but with more stuff cluttering the hallways of our house and barely hiding the holes in our hearts. Christmas just doesn’t bring what we hoped it would.
We are not the first to experience this situation. There have been countless scores of others who have shortened their vision to focus on a single moment or event, investing all of their hopes and efforts, only to find life on the other side feeling eerily similar to the one they just left.
I saw a past example of this today as I was reading in 1 Samuel, when all of God’s people became convinced they needed a man to be their king. All of their attention was placed upon it, every conversation with God was centered on it, and their hope for deliverance was tied to it.
God kept telling them, look farther down the line.
This is the way the kind of king you’re talking about operates. He’ll take your sons and make soldiers of them—chariotry, cavalry, infantry, regimented in battalions and squadrons. He’ll put some to forced labor on his farms, plowing and harvesting, and others to making either weapons of war or chariots in which he can ride in luxury. He’ll put your daughters to work as beauticians and waitresses and cooks. He’ll conscript your best fields, vineyards, and orchards and hand them over to his special friends. He’ll tax your harvests and vintage to support his extensive bureaucracy. Your prize workers and best animals he’ll take for his own use. He’ll lay a tax on your flocks and you’ll end up no better than slaves. The day will come when you will cry in desperation because of this king you so much want for yourselves. But don’t expect God to answer.
But the people could not see past this day they expected to come in the future, where everything would be perfect. They would, and did, give everything for it. And when it came, when they found a king, there was a time of joy as he delivered them from the hand of their enemy.
But that day led inexorably to another day when he led them in battle. And another. And another. Before long, everything they had heard would happen with a king, did indeed happen. They had become so focused on one day they stopped thinking about all the ones coming after.
Their king was my Christmas.
Because we do the same thing at Christmas time. If our kids just have this toy, that experience, or these traditions, then we are convinced we are winning.
If we could only get that one thing we need, that one person we want, or that one experience to share, then we are convinced we will be more satisfied.
If we could just make this holiday better than the ones in the past, then we are convinced the rest will be merry as well.
We are just like the Israelites of old; our short sight leads us to prop up weak kings, and they never deliver what we expect.
Do not let your sight be shortened. Do not settle for a weak king. This Christmas, keep Jesus as the king on the throne of your heart. He alone will deliver the fulfillment of your hope and the peace you desire. He alone will bring joy. There is only one king who can truly deliver on the desires we feel.
Don’t let short sight lead you to prop up a weak king.