As is my tradition, the weekend of Thanksgiving I began putting up Christmas decorations. I have some favorite artificial flower arrangements. The red Amaryllis especially. After carefully extracting the arrangement from the plastic bag, I lifted it high to admire.
Gasp. What? Who had nibbled the red berries? I checked the plant’s backside. A big gash in the stalk showed teeth marks. I extracted another arrangement. Oh no, my snowman pine boughs arrangement! The small apple looked half eaten, also exposing white Styrofoam.
Kangaroo rats! They had been in the attic before, and we thought we had taken care of the problem. Well, apparently not!
As I examined the damage, I got a little mad. Which is why I let myself fantasize how it might have gone down for that quivering whiskered cutie-pie that dared gorge himself on my Christmas decorations!
I can just see it . . . After munching on fake berries and apple, the pointy-nosed little devil merrily hops on his way. Suddenly, he clutches his belly and moans, “Why does it feel like rocks in mine tummy?” Because Styrofoam is not food! I want to yell at him, as he sways, appearing quite faint.
Suddenly those beady black eyes cross, and . . . Plop. There he lies, keeled over, tiny little feet sticking straight up. Yep. Them thar’s varmint surely expired on my Styrofoam. Now that’s just desserts!
So with that bit of indulgence in Shadenfreude over the demise of my imaginary rat, I returned to decorating with all is calm all is bright aplomb.
Now you know me. Some random event like that, and I start to see parallels to life, so I began immediately thinking about the “food” I consume that is not sustenance at all. That sits like Styrofoam in my soul and may even be poisonous, deadly. Things like hours spent consuming social media, YouTube, or perhaps the most distressing of all, Google News.
This past year, in the isolation, the challenges and changes we’ve faced, it has been tempting to zone out, to enter into mindless activities. Of course we need time to destress, but I have found myself pulled into unhealthy ways of decompressing at times, and maybe you have too. In other words, feeding on Styrofoam.
So as we enter the Advent season, I want to be sure to feed on true sustenance and be more intentional about it. I want to consider what things really matter, and how I can avoid the counterfeit as much as possible.
As Christians we celebrate the real reason for the season. The joy of the Christ child coming to earth as Immanuel, God with us, is not empty, shallow fluff. How beautiful, how amazing, that when we open the door to His knock, He promises to come in so that we may eat and fellowship together (Revelations 3:20).
There is no greater place to find true sustenance than time spent in the Lord’s loving Presence.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).