Do you remember how it felt when you believed in Santa Claus? I certainly do, and actually had an encounter with THE Santa during a long-ago visit with our youngest daughter.
For a few years in the late 1990s, it was our habit to go see Santa on Christmas Eve at the mall. We had a favorite Santa (I won’t say which mall), and if you visited Santa after 2:00pm or so on Christmas Eve, there were plenty of parking spaces and almost no line to see The Man in Red. It didn’t hurt that the stores were emptying out, and so I could do a bit of last-minute shopping without all the crowds.
On one of those visits, our daughter—then about 6 or 7 years old—hopped onto Santa’s lap, and proceeded to tell him what she wanted for Christmas. I didn’t hear much of the conversation, but I do remember a few, “Yes, sirs” and “No, sirs”. After a minute or so, and the requisite picture taking, she hopped down and starting walking over to me.
While she was walking back, Santa called out to me, “Hey, Dan, come here for a second!” Wait, what did he say? “Hey, DAN…!” Whoa! I know that he’s my favorite Santa and all, but he’s really just one of Santa’s helpers, right? I mean, I KNOW who Santa really is. But, this Santa just called me by my first name!
My heart literally skipped a beat, and I felt that same thing that I did as a kid. As I walked over to Santa, he leaned over and said, “You have one of the most polite children I’ve seen this season. Good job and Merry Christmas.” Now THE Santa was telling me that I was a good parent too!
Then, my mind caught up with my hearing.
It must have been replaying that moment over and over, because as I was getting ready to say, “Thank, you,” it occurred to me that Santa had not actually called me by my first name. Instead, he had simply said, “Hey, ‘DAD,’ come here for a second!“
That’s when the sweating started, and I laughed. Here I was in my 30’s, and I really thought—even if for just a moment—that this was the REAL Santa.
I’ve thought about this moment every year since that time, and I’ve realized something. We are all looking forward to some greater Truth, some greater existence. And for those of us who have accepted God’s Messiah, Jesus, as our Lord and Savior, we really are—deep down—looking forward to seeing Him face to face.
Perhaps not everyone identifies this longing through his/her connection with Santa Claus. But for me, this interaction with Santa has taught me something about the great longing Israel had for their Messiah to come. And the longing that I have to see His return.
A couple of thousand years have passed since He was born here in the land where we now live, which, ironically tends to strip Christmas completely of its American holiday ‘feelings’. Many of those around us are desperately seeking a messiah, and wonder when he will arrive. For us, we are longing to see Israel’s Messiah return, just as He promised, and at that time we’ll see Him face to face.
And I’m sure that my heart will skip a beat (or more) when I hear Him say, “Hey, Dan, come over here…“
Until that time arrives, it’s every Christian’s responsibility to introduce others around us to Him. And for those who respond, to make disciples of the Messiah and King.
May you have a Merry Christmas, blessed with opportunities to spread true Christmas cheer. For it truly is “Christmas”—”the Messiah was sent”—and He is coming again soon! Gloria in excelsis Deo!