A couple of Decembers ago I was substituting in a public school first grade. After a playground recess a little boy came hurrying in. He came straight to me in such distress he was near tears.
“Ms. Fisher, Joey says Santa isn’t real! He is real isn’t he?” What should I say to the little boy behind those anxious, hopeful eyes? I prayed for wisdom as I said with all the warm assurance I could give him, “Well, I’ve never seen Santa but I do know that Jesus is real and it’s His birthday we’re celebrating, so maybe we should think about Him.”
Processing this new concept seemed to take his mind off Santa and we moved on. But my mind was stuck on the sad plight of most youngsters’ lack of exposure to the Truth and I was reminded of another saying that seems to underscore this condition – “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” Just as a young tree growing out of a hillside is bent and often stunted by prevailing winds, so children become adults who are inclined toward the things they learned as children. I remember how our children waited for the gifts sitting under the tree until we retold (sometimes having them manipulate the flannel graph figures) the story of how God gave Jesus -His perfect gift of eternal life to those who believe in Him. Not a benevolent Santa, but the Eternal God, is “the giver of every good and perfect gift.” (James 1:17) Those ‘little twigs’ were being bent toward the real reason for our celebrating and gift-giving at Christmas time. Teaching them to observe all things he has commanded is an ever increasing challenge in a society that seeks to erase all opportunity for Biblical instruction from its youth.
Consider also His challenge to His church of believers: “Be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine…but, speaking the truth in love, we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-Christ-” (Eph.4:14-16)
Read Deut. 6:4-9 for further instruction.