As a young boy I attended church, but I never encountered Jesus there. My mother took me regularly, but my father stayed behind. I loved my dad and greatly desired to be just like him. As a result, I quickly got the message that church was not important and so I decided to stop going. I immediately entered into life apart from the spiritual and though I prayed the Lordís prayer every evening, my life was one lived completely apart from Jesus.
Christmas for me had nothing to do with Jesus. I had a vague recollection that it had to do with his birth, but for me it was about getting time out of school and about getting as many presents as possible. I remember opening up the Sears catalog and greedily marking as many gifts as possible. I never got everything I wanted, but I got plenty none-the-less. The big gifts always came from Santa himself. Santa was my hero because he gave me the big present that made me happy. That Christmas morning when I was seven and I awoke to find a new bicycle ready for me to ride was like no other. I rode that bike every day, everywhere my mom would let me go, and I had Santa and my parents to thank for making it all happen.
Years later, in high school, a very good friend introduced me to the Jesus who had been born on Christmas day. It happened on a cold afternoon in January when my eyes were opened to the impact of the baby born in a manger so many years ago. Christmas day that year was like no other that I had experienced before. I was no longer focused on getting gifts, but on giving them. I searched everywhere for the perfect gift to give my family and friends in order to share with them some of the joy that I was experiencing because of the new life that I had because of Jesus.
While Santa had taken a back seat a number of years previously, I now had a new appreciation for him. He represented the spirit of giving and that was a good thing. Yet, I also recognized that even Santa didnít desire to have first place in the hearts of children and adults everywhere. That place belongs to Jesus, the savior, who was born on Christmas day. Looking back, I so wish I had the heart of the little boy in this video by Becky Kelley. Check it out: