“Dear Santa,” the daughter of one of my dearest friends wrote, “I would like you to do what I want you to do. Here is my Christmas List:
- Superhero cape
- Vet Clinic
- Trip to Water Park
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- I want to build a snowman
Merry Christmas <3”
When prompted by her parents to reconsider her wording (after all, what would Santa think?) she quickly replied, “No. He’ll love it because it’s from me.”
Maybe more often than we’d like to admit, our prayers to God sound like this spunky little girl’s list of demands. I know mine do. Mainly, “Dear God, I would like you to do what I want you to do.” Often without much awareness of my own heart, I present my bullet points of requests - for me, my husband, my kids, our circumstances, family, friends, and so on.
Here’s the problem: God’s not Santa. He doesn’t exist to serve us all our wants, and sometimes He doesn’t even give us what we are sure we need. His love and grace are not reliant upon our behavior. There is no garnering any merit with God - no naughty or nice list to ensure we’re given what we want or feel we deserve.
Particularly at this time of year, with the holidays upon us, I have so many petty wants and perceived needs rolling around in my little brain. The sentiment behind most of them is, “please make this all comfortable and to my liking, God.”
No kids getting yet another cold at the most inopportune time. No uncomfortable conversations. No bad nights of sleep. No meltdowns in the car on our 9 hour drive to Pittsburgh (this goes for my husband and I along with the children). No disconnection with my husband. And oh - no frustrations or stress!
I want merry. I want calm. I want bright. I want perfect. In fact that’s what our trendy little letter board reads on our shelf as I write this: “Merry. Calm. Bright.⭐️” Yet, as opposed to finding my joy, peace, and lightness in Him each holiday season, I’m incredibly prone to attempt to find it in my circumstances.
What stuck out most to me in my mini-friend’s demanding letter to Santa was her sheer confidence in how Santa viewed her and felt towards her. So confident of his goodness. So confident of his love for her. She could say what she really meant without fear of rejection. She could be honest, with the faith of a child, as she believed he already knew what she wanted. And here’s where the golden nugget lies for me…
If we approach God in prayer from such a position, namely confidence and security in His love - not because of our own doing or goodness but because of His perfect, unconditional love, mercy, and grace through Jesus - both our perspective and our prayers will change. When we come to Him, so thoroughly confident that He already knows us deeply and loves us beyond measure anyway, our prayers begin to morph into something different, something less demanding and more eternal. Sure, things going smoothly and happily over the holidays is a special blessing, but our joy is not found there.
It’s found in the unshifting heart of a perfectly good God, who sent His own Son to us that we may have life forever with Him. When we choose to put our faith in Christ and we sit in the confidence of who He is, we realize that we need not make petty demands or request our own personal comfort because it becomes less about us and more about Him knowing what’s best. We can simply rest knowing that He already knows our prayers before we even utter them, so we can be honest with Him without fear of dismissal or abandonment.
Far greater than the magic of Santa, each December we get to celebrate the real-life miracle and eternal promise of Jesus Christ. He’s where the story of life as we know it begins and ends. Our humble Hero, powerful Protagonist, good Guardian, and sovereign Savior. As we set aside our hearts’ loud demands this Christmas, may we sit confidently, contentedly, and joyfully at His feet in wonder.