The God of Christmas Past: More than a Part-Time Parent
December 24, 2019 | Megan Schemenauer
My father exists in my memories of Christmas as little more than a picture, long since faded by the years. Tall and gangly. Floppy dark hair. A shaggy 70s mustache. Standing beneath a wood-trimmed doorway decked in shiny red garland and holding a Polaroid camera. A memory recalled from a picture I no longer even possess: the only memory I have of my dad at Christmas time. My parents divorced, my dad moved to California, and the years (and holidays) rolled on without him.
At 37, I’ve now experienced both sides of divorce: as a child and as a parent. I’ve seen how the most wonderful time of the year can also be a tricky time of year for divorced families, both logistically and emotionally. You want to give your children the “best Christmas ever;” as a Christian, you also want to make sure they understand the true meaning of Christmas. And you’ve got to do it within the boundaries of “my time, his time,” “our weekend, their weekend.” Some holidays are even split right down the middle: morning with Mom, evening with Dad. Maybe it’s this idea of “part-time parenting” that makes me so immensely grateful for the name of God in Isaiah 9:6: “Everlasting Father.”
What does the world understand of “everlasting” anymore? If we want to, we can set our Christmas dinner table with disposable paper products. Our technologies, from TVs to cell phones, don’t last more than a few years. And it isn’t news to anyone anymore that even marriages have entered into this era of “disposability.” After all, nothing lasts forever, right?
Enter God. The Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End. The One who was, and is, and is to come. (Revelation 1:8) Everlasting. We hardly know what to do with the word. What does this idea of an Everlasting Father mean for us?
It means the same God who rescued Noah from worldwide destruction also comes to my rescue. The same God who freed the Israelite slaves in Egypt can set me free. The same God who sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross still loves me enough, even though I sin, to guide and direct me, not just at salvation, but each and every day of my life. Because an Everlasting Father is always present, even in the worst of times. An Everlasting Father is a source of comfort, even when the mistakes are all my doing. And our Everlasting Father has promised us that “He will never leave us or forsake us.” (Hebrews 13:5)
If you’ve been let down, if you’ve been abandoned, if you feel alone, if you feel unlovable, if you’ve lost a parent or a child or a loved one, if you’ve lost faith that there is anyone left who will always be there for you: this Christmas can be different.
Invite the God of Christmas Past into your present Christmas. Ask Him to be your Everlasting Father. It won’t add an extra present under the Christmas tree, but it can fill the hole inside you that you might not have even yet realized exists. If you’ve been searching for stability, find it in the presence of your Everlasting Father, who is more than just a part-time parent, more than just a memory of a faded photograph, and even closer than you realize.