Lesson: never settle for a knockoff
Last year, my daughter indicated she would love some winter boots for Christmas. The boots she wanted were not rubber, plastic boots used for trudging through the snow. These boots are brown leather with fur lining on the inside. In essence, she was interested in something like the popular UGG boots. Now, my daughter is fantastic as she would never ask for something so expensive. I mean, UGG boots are like $1000 (ok, that is a slight exaggeration). So, we looked around and around. We finally found some boots that looked very similar. Knowing that his sister really wanted some boots, my son bought some for her that were very inexpensive, in his price range. They look great. In fact, you might be hard pressed to see how they are different from an UGG boot. They seemed to be well-constructed. They were hip. They were warm. They were perfect. She loved them.
The only problem is that they did not hold up. They started to break down immediately, like in two weeks. I called the company to explain the problem. I asked for a replacement pair as I thought this particular defective pair was an anomaly. Graciously, they sent out another pair. In fact, they made a mistake with the order and accidently sent out two pair, mailed separately. It was quite funny when we had two boxes sitting outside our door on the same day. We opened the first box: brand new boots. We opened the second box which was mailed separately: a second pair of brand new boots. Fantastic, I thought. If another one fails, we got a back up pair. Yet, as you can guess, they both began to break down. Oh, it was so disappointing. I mean we had three pairs of boots that did not last. So, I learned my lesson: do not buy a knockoff. They look like the real deal; however, the true quality showed itself almost immediately.
Christmas reminds me of this struggle. People are looking for joy in so many places. This time of year lends itself for a lot of knockoffs when it comes to joy. We get that perfect present that we have wanted forever. We open up the box. We see the gift. We squeal with delight (for the record I don’t squeal). Our Christmas day is perfect because we received the gift we wanted. Yet, after a few months, the joy over that gift wears off and it just becomes another item we own. Or, we can’t wait to go to the party that we have looked forward to since we received the invitation. We have counted the days. We have the perfect outfit (no, I am not a clothes horse). We attend. We have a good time. It was joyous. Yet, a few days later stress has consumed us and the joy from that evening is gone. Possibly, it is time off. Life is busy. Work is stressful. You can’t wait to get a few days off to do absolutely nothing. You had dreamed of waking up at 8:00 instead of 5:30. To be honest, it was nice. You woke up refreshed. You had a cup of coffee not because you needed it but you wanted it. Joy…until you get that email reminding you of some family issue that is frustrating you. We have all been there. We are chasing after joy knockoffs. Presents, parties, and rest that will magically give you joy yet it never lasts. It is good for a day or two but then life sucks it out.
Matthew 1:23 states, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”). God shows himself to us in Christ. God is present with us in Christ. All that is good and perfect can be found in the person of Christ including joy. Jesus states in John 15:11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” His joy may be in us and that joy may be complete! What Jesus is talking about is not a knockoff but legitimate, transforming joy that can only be found in the one who created it, God. He makes available to us the real deal. Which is why I find it sad to think about how so many people will pursue a knockoff form of joy this week when the real deal is right in front of them, a Savior lying in a manger, available to all, open to all yet passed over too often. Enjoy this week with all the presents, parties, and time off. For me, I am excited to have a blast, giving presents and receiving them. I can’t wait to eat until my body cries uncle. I am looking forward to a few days where I don’t have to think about responsibilities. However, more so, I am simply grateful that I can enjoy the joy that surpasses them all through redemption in Christ.