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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Wake Up Call, Part 3: Mysterious Melancholy

SO, did your living room ever look like this one after Christmas morning? Wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, boxes--thrown all over, and maybe a kid or two laying around in it? lol These are not my own cherubs by the way. But isn't it amazing how fast the actual day of Christmas goes by? Months of planning, countless hours shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, and assembling and WHOOSH!! The day is over.

And for kids, you've seen it, haven't you? They come bouncing down the stairs and, giddy with joy, they tear into their presents. RIP.TEAR.GRAB.CRUMPLE. Present after present until…the last present is opened. Then, there's that momentary look on their faces. They look around. Maybe it's behind the tree? Under the couch. Hmmm...wait. That's all? There are no more presents? Have you ever seen that moment of "Awwww, it's over?" in their eyes?

Maybe it's not on Christmas Day. Maybe it's a week after when the luster of new toys wears off, that special gift looks strangely like other things in the toybox, and the candy's well, gone.

Some call it Post Christmas Blues. I call it the Mysterious Melancholy. I feel it myself, usually the day after Christmas. Certainly I feel it when we've just come home from vacation. And I often feel it when summer break's over, and I'm sitting in the first faculty meeting at my school. {SIGH!}

I know I'm not the only one who's felt this…am I? {CRICKETS} Ok, not funny. Christmas is an utterly joyous time of the year. There's so much to anticipate, so much to savor and enjoy. And let's face it, God has given us so much in this life to enjoy. But…

But have you ever noticed that no matter how good something's supposed to be, that it's never quite as good as we think it will be? It never completely satisfies you, not for very long, at any rate. In fact, I'll go so far as to throw big life achievements into the mix. We go through stages of accomplishments: graduation, first job, marriage, child birth, etc. It's SO great…for a little while. The real world rushes in. The job becomes a chore, the honeymoon ends, the kids want noserings, etc. It just never satisfies.

Speaking personally on the matter. My dream was to become a published author. I even wrote that in my high school senior yearbook. Guess what? I am a published author now. I've done countless signings. I've been on local and national radio, local and national TV. I've toured across the country. I've been on the bestseller list 12 times. I've had nice people write me or tell me in person how my books are so great, etc. But, to tell you the God's honest truth, I'm still not satisfied. And it's not because I'm an idiot. (I may be an idiot, but that's not the reason I'm not satisfied). I'm not satisfied because I'm a Christian, and I will never truly be satisfied in this broken world. We were never meant to be satisfied here.

The Bible tells us that we are strangers passing through, that we are citizens of another kingdom. The Bible tells us that all of creation is groaning for the day Jesus comes back and renews everything. So no wonder there's this mysterious melancholy that we all feel, a kind of letdown that things have come to an end or that the excitement has dulled, or that the accomplishment didn't really do for us what we thought it might.

And let me clarify, so far I've been talking about believers; folks who call Jesus "Lord" and who are seeking after Him. For nonbelievers, the mysterious melancholy is still there. In fact, it might be doubly powerful, perhaps dangerously powerful. But the danger for unbelievers is that they can dogmatically cling to the hope that something on this earth WILL satisfy completely. If I could just get that ________ fill in the blank, then I'd be truly happy. And worse still is when someone falls into the trap of finding something that satisfies, but only temporarily. And once found, the poor soul needs more and more and more of whatever it is to achieve that feeling once more. This is what we term addiction. The reality is, there is nothing that will satisfy the unbeliever until you meet Jesus. And once you meet Jesus, the world cannot satisfy you, so you will long for Heaven.

CS Lewis was on to this a long time ago. I should have just told you all to read his book, "The Weight of Glory" and saved myself the post. There's no way I can do this subject justice. So here's an excerpt from Lewis:

Now, if we are made for heaven, the desire for our proper place will be already in us, but not yet attached to the true object, and will even appear as the rival of that object. And this, I think, is just what we find… If a transtemporal, transfinite good is our real destiny, then any other good on which our desire fixes must be in some degree fallacious, must bear at best only a symbolical relation to what will truly satisfy. ...

In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.

Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

If you are visiting here, and you really haven't made up your mind about Jesus, I applaud you for searching in the first place. There can be no greater pursuit in this lifetime that finding out who we really are and why we're here. At a deep level we all know this. We know that there's more to this so-called life than what we see. We know that there's something really important that we ought to be looking for. We know that even the best things this life can offer: the Super Bowls, the TV appearances, the dreams come true--none of it can truly and lastingly satisfy. This feeling we feel when the Christmas presents are all gone…it's a longing for something more, something of God…something heavenly.

I believe we are all people meant to discover Jesus, believe and follow Him. I believe that once you believe, you will find a joy that satisfies you in a unique way--a peace that surpasses understanding. But even so, you will only just be getting your citizenship papers. Your far off country still waits. And there, you will be ultimately satisfied forever, for you will be with God.

I'd like to close with a very convicting quote from Lewis:

"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."


Robert Treskillard said...

Along with CS Lewis, it sounds like you've been reading "Desiring God" by John Piper!

Keep up the good posts, Wayne!

Nathan Petrie said...

I love, especially, that last quote from Lewis.
I think Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song with those words in it.

It is so true.

Keep up the good work Mr. Batson

Kittybeth said...

It did my heart good to read this post. Thank you.

Father God, be near to us all, and intensify our longing for You and our true home. Let us be even more excited for it than we are for Christmas morning. Help us along our way here--help us along the narrow path, and to keep walking straight ahead without looking to the right or the left. We love You so much.

In Jesus' name, amen.

Anonymous said...


BookRyder said...

Christmas was very sad this year.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good stuff, Mr. Batson!

~ queenofnarnia