Last week, my wife and I saw the play “A Christmas Carol.” We decided to go largely because it seemed a Christmasy thing to do, and we enjoyed the holiday-ness of the event.
In the play, Charles Dickens presents the moral of his story at two levels.
He was deeply concerned for the plight of the poor, and he felt that society was indifferent to the less fortunate. On a personal level, he gives us Ebenezer Scrooge as a man who is transformed, who becomes compassionate to others and chooses to give to the world rather than withdraw.
Both are lessons we can learn from. But neither of those themes is what affected me the most.
I was struck by the journey through time Scrooge undergoes. Partly, because we all have issues with the past, the present, and the future. But it also reminded me that we have a God who is uniquely able to help us deal with all three of them. The God for all time.
Ghosts of Our Past, Present, and Future
During the play, Ebenezer Scrooge is actually visited by four ghosts, not just the three we normally remember.
The first is his dead partner, Jacob Marley. As punishment for his self-serving life, Jacob’s spirit must wander the Earth weighted down with heavy chains. At one point, Marley issues the chilling prophecy that, based on the life we lead, we each build the chains we become doomed to wear forever.
Scrooge swoons and falls into a deep sleep, but as the story continues, he is visited by three more frightening apparitions:
- The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge on a journey of regret. As a young man, Ebenezer lost his fiancée when his lust for money eclipsed his ability to love another. But all of us, not just Scrooge, have turned something we love into an idol, regretfully allowing it to replace those things most dear.
- The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Ebenezer his self-absorption, which we suffer from as well, when they visit the home of Bob Cratchit. But Scrooge’s heart is softened by young Tiny Tim’s warmth and kindness and by a family who shows joy in spite of not having turkey or presents to adorn their Christmas.
- The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come introduces Ebenezer to his fear by showing him his yet-to-be grave and headstone. Scrooge desperately wants to alter his fate and overcome his frightening future. As do we, as we seek to deal with our own fear of death or the loss of health, or security, or comfort, or pride.
In the play, Scrooge does change, and remains changed. He becomes a saved man. As can we, if we adopt a faith for all time. So we no longer need worry about ghosts anymore.
The God for All Time
Each of us is haunted by our past, present, and future. But we don’t have to be, because we have an all-powerful God who is simultaneously …
- God of Our Past – A Savior who can turn replace our regret with peace and joy.
- God of Our Present – A Holy Spirit that changes self-absorption to compassion.
- God of Our Future – A Lord who can transform our fear into hope and purpose.
We need more than a vision of ghosts to escape our past, embrace our present, and anticipate our future. We need a God who can transcend time, one who has overcome the world.
As “A Christmas Carol” concludes, we hear Tiny Tim say, “God bless us, every one!” The good news is that, in real life, God has done just that: he has blessed every one of us.
Because we have the God for all time. And Christmas is when we celebrate His birthday.
Question: Are you most worried about the ghost of the past, the present, or the future?
Action: This Christmas, celebrate the God for all time through the joyous birthday of Jesus Christ.