Haunted at the Holidays

“Boo!”

Scare you?

During the holiday season, Charles Dickens returns to
the forefront of our thinking, through his classic work,
“A Christmas Carol.” Numerous adaptations have been
created on film and television over the years. We usually
see at least one version at some point during this
season. It’s a literary way of checking our life reflection
temperature. Where are we? Can we do better? What
do we need to change in our lives?

And this hinges largely upon the presence of ghosts.
Not just for Halloween any longer. Nope. Indeed, one
of the biggest elements of “A Christmas Carol” is the interplay
between the miser, Ebenezer Scrooge and the
three ghosts, setting up an “intervention” with him, concerning
his life choices and mistakes. Yes, these three
ghosts, representing Christmas Past, Christmas Present
and Christmas Future, all challenge Scrooge (and us) to
examine the state of our unique, individual hearts in
our daily lives. Each one of us is ultimately called to be
mindful of the past, present and future, not to be overwhelmed
and oppressed by any of it, but rather, to become
better, more loving, more fully ourselves through
revelation of our daily choices and priorities.

Yes, it’s quite a challenge. Most of us fear it and run
away from it, in some way, at some point. Regrets, painful
mistakes, loss and personal imperfection may make
us feel we’re only haunted and doomed to fail. It’s especially
amplified and lonely this time of year, when selfreflection
shows us things we don’t want to see.

So, which ghost haunts you the most these days: Past,
Present or Future? Is the past haunting you with either
glory days no longer visibly felt or tragic heartaches
which continue to haunt you into your current
life? Is your ghost of the present taunting you with
the perception-as-reality picture of discontentment,
disappointment and failed potential? And how about
that ghost of the future? Is it intimidating you with a
bleak, impossible and/or loveless, joyless round of days
to come? And now, to top it all off, add your recovery
process, with all of its setbacks, failures and challenges.

How haunted are you now?

Are you crying, “Bah Humbug?” How scary is your ghost
story?

It’s not hopeless for you. These aren’t the only “spirits”
at work. Wherever you are- in life, in issues, in pain, in
recovery- God is a Spirit hovering over you right now.
We need to go to Him, then, with our truth regarding
our past, our present and our future.

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship
[him] in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24

Like Ebenezer Scrooge, we need to say “yes” to what
God’s Spirit has to teach each of us. God knows all
about us, about our current situations, every bit of our
past, present and future circumstances:

“Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the
sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.”
Psalm 139: 7-10

We all live imperfect lives, filled with imperfect choices.
God knows this and loves us the entire time. Look at
this season, not as a time to be condemned or haunted
by ghosts, but rather, like Scrooge, let this be a time of
renewal, hope and reconciliation. The past, present and
future, in God’s Hands, can be used, indeed, to bless
and prosper you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give
you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

And remember the answer to the question, “What’s it
all about?” Answer: Jesus. He’s the antidote to your tormenting
ghosts. Unlike the finger pointing of our failed
choices, surfacing in these apparitions of past, present
or future, Jesus has come to give “life more abundantly”
(John 10:10) to you.

Jesus is the reason for the season. We’ve all heard that
expression. Most of us have seen numerous nativity displays
of Baby Jesus in the manger. And even “A Charlie
Brown Christmas” has the character of Linus reciting
scripture (Luke 2:8-14), while stating, “that’s what
Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

It can be hard to remember that good news, however
as we deal with our ghosts. When we’re challenged by
emotional, familial or addiction-related stress just to
name a few options, complicated by our recovery challenges,
it’s difficult to keep that Jesus reason as the center
of the whole thing. Maybe we even think we’ll get
around to truly celebrating Him when this or that issue
in our lives is better or when we’re perfectly recovered.
We can find ourselves waiting a lon-n-n-ng time, can’t
we? Perfect recovery? There doesn’t seem to be such a
thing with an imperfect human being, like you and I, at
the helm. Recovery never promised it would be painfree,
neat, tidy or ghost free. It’s imperfect day by day,
step by step.

But isn’t that the best time, the best reason for Jesus?
When we’re less than perfect, less than pulled together,
less than healthy or serene? Isn’t an imperfect day the
best time to reach for Someone Who truly gets it- and
us? After all…

“On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need
a doctor, but the sick.’” Matthew 9:12

Further adding, in fact, “…I have not come to call the
righteous, but sinners.’” Mark 2:17

Are you haunted by your ghosts? What if, during your
haunting, there was help reaching for you?

“For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned,
undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth
came through Jesus Christ.” John 1: 17

Could it, indeed, be God calling you to a better, condemnation-
free life? It is possible. It’s not based on your
strength; it’s based on His love and grace.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace (My favor and loving-kindness
and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any
danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for
My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and
completed) and show themselves most effective in [your]
weakness.’ Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my
weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power
of Christ (the Messiah) may rest upon me! 2 Corinthians
12: 9

You’re not hopelessly haunted by ghosts. You’re loved
by a real God, Who has sent Jesus to be a part of your
recovery process. Please remember that in your life. You
are never alone!

“…and they will call him Immanuel” (which means ‘God
with us’). “ Matthew 1:23

Next time you feel haunted, talk to God. You don’t need
make it complicated; just share your heart and your issues.
Perhaps this prayer can help you get started:

“Father, I come to You, in the Name of Jesus. I ask You
to help me with everything that haunts me about my
life and choices. You know I have regrets and pain. But
I come to You now, asking for Your Intervention in my
life, practically, relevantly and daily. Thank You for loving
and helping me constantly. This time of year, help
me to live a new start with you, infused into my life.
Show me what the Christmas season means for me.
Thank You. Amen.”

God bless your holiday season!