Every Christmas the TNT channel runs a 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story. I love this movie because it evokes memories of growing up in a small town, the expectation of receiving Christmas presents as a child, as well as the realizations one discovers growing up that some things are not what they are cracked up to be.
Ralphie, the little boy who is the central character, was focused on one thing—getting a BB gun for Christmas, specifically a “Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle.” It was his all consuming passion. He spends the majority of the movie trying to convince others of his need for it.
First he begs his mom for it, but is rebuffed because of her concern for his safety, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
Then, he appeals to Santa, only to discover that Santa could care less about what Ralphie wants for Christmas and is more concerned with when his shift will end.
Finally, he writes an essay about why he wants a BB gun for school and daydreams about getting an A+. He gets it back with a C+ and a final warning, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”
In the end, he does receive his precious Red Rider, but, you guessed it, shoots himself in the glasses.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Ralphie receives his long awaited decoder ring from the “Little Orphan Annie Secret Circle.” He finally is able to use it to discover the secret message from the radio broadcast. The message is utterly disappointing, “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.” Ralphie is furious about having wasted his time and energy for what amounted to “a crummy commercial.”
We all have had the experience of having our heart set on something, then after we get it, we find it was not what we thought. We can get “tunnel vision” for the things this life has to offer. Some focus on the pursuit of money, thinking that their goal is to accumulate as much as possible. Others strive after the things money can buy, comfort and possessions, and live their lives pursuing those things. Still others pursue fame, power, pleasure, etc.
The problem with all of this is that these things were never meant to satisfy the longings of our heart. The writer of Ecclesiastes says it best when he compares the pursuit of such things to “a chasing of the wind.” In other words, in the same way that you will never catch the wind no matter how hard you try, you will never find lasting satisfaction in the things this life has to offer.
Christmas is about the fact that Jesus came to bring us something that will last, an eternal relationship with God.
It is very easy to get side tracked in this life with stuff that will not last. During this Christmas and New Year season, ask the Lord to help you evaluate your priorities. The best way to find out what they are is to look at your checkbook and calendar. Now ask yourself a simple question, “Will what I see matter in 10 years, 50 years, a hundred years?” If not, ask God to help you reprioritize so that you are investing in something that will last for eternity. And one of the best investments is to share the gospel, pointing people to the one thing that will last, a relationship with God thought faith in Christ. Everything else pales in comparison.