The days of the Polar Express playing on loop in my home 24/7 may be a slightly distant memory—an occurrence we all rejoice in—but even without the constant reminders to hold onto my ticket or the live action hot chocolate tray dancing taking place in my kitchen, parts of the movie linger in my brain.
If you did not live in my house for the last twenty years, Polar Express is the story of a young boy who is struggling in his belief of all things North Pole related. A mysterious train appears on his doorstep and whisks him away on a wonderful adventure that culminates in him receiving the first gift of Christmas from the jolly red suited man himself. The gift is a bell—a special bell that rings true to the belief in your heart.
As the years pass, many proclaim the bell to be broken as they can’t hear it anymore, but the narrator can as the tones ring clear for those who believe.
As we near Christmas, for some, it’s easy to say, “I believe.” It’s almost cheating because unlike Mary, Joseph, the Shepherd and the Wise Men, we know the culmination of this beautiful season:
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7
From here, the truths and promises just start pouring forth; however, in this season others may hear a distant ringing or find that they can no longer hear the beautiful tones associated with belief. I can relate.
Friends, it has been a week. No a season. Actually a year. Well, even more. A few nights ago, in a moment of frustration after having our rental car cleaned out of all our camera gear, laptops, luggage and gifts, I wrote something about stinky sticky fingers on social media. Friends all chimed in their support and some went on to basically curse the thieves. I wanted to get all riled up about the theft, but I could not because…I believe.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
The Lord is my light and my salvation. The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid? Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
I leaned into to words of Ephesians 4:31-32
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
I prayed for favor with the insurance company, let go of my grief over losing some of the items that were in the bags—including the brand new suitcase that I had wanted for years and finally scored for 50% off on Black Friday—and then even prayed a blessing over the thieves.
Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Romans 12:14
Why? My peace far outweighs the value of any Monos Carry-On Pro Plus. This season has included all the tears associated with a dream deferred, financial loss, a possibly negative health outcome and heinous situations with which I have absolutely no control—things that sometimes silence the bell of belief. Throughout it all, I repeat the mantra. I believe.
When the plans go awry,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12
I put Romans 8:28 on repeat and even lean into Genesis 50:20. The Lord’s character does not change, even if my thoughts about Him and the situation do (Psalm 100). He loves, provides and protects regardless of my emotions.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10
Friends, if you have not yet figured out the secret to hearing the bell, it is simple. You have to counter the things, words and events that attempt to steal your peace with the big man himself—and not the one wearing a red suit. Use His Words. Grab your Bible. Allow the Holy Spirit, your Paraclete, the One who the Lord sent to dwell with you (John 14:16-17), to give you words when you are too weak to speak. Lean into Him. Then, redirect your mind with praise.
He inhabits the praises of His people. Psalm 22:3
In His presence, there is fullness of joy. Psalm 16:11
It’s a simple formula, but the execution of it may take everything inside of you. The beauty lies in the promise that for everything that is poured out, the Lord will restore—restore in an untainted, pure version. You’ve got this!
Josh Groban in “The Polar Express croons, “We were dreamers not so long ago. But one day we had to grow up. When it seems the magic’s slipped away. We find it all again on Christmas Day.”
May you too find the TRUE gift of Christmas this year and join me in loudly proclaiming: