Santa Claus, Heaven, and the Existence of God

Featuring Cory Alstad Posted on May 15, 2010

I remember recently having a conversation with a friend of mine about the fact that my wife and I had just broken the news to our children that (SPOILER ALERT!) Santa isn’t real.

I also remember feeling quite sad about the fact that they were now ‘in the know’ about this little secret, and it’s been something that I’ve pondered quite a bit, since. 

If you were to ask me why I was sad about this, I’d have to answer that I think it has something to do with a loss of beautiful naïveté, and an interruption in my children’s developing imagination.

You see, one of the most important factors in my own faith journey has been my imagination.  From a young age, I’ve always had a really vivid imagination, and I’ve always loved stories.  I think that God has shown Himself to me more through stories and through my imagination than through almost anything else.   Our imaginations remind us that there is more to this existence than what we see.  We’re reminded that things aren’t yet as they should be, but one day they will be. 

As C.S. Lewis put it “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Now, what does this have to do with my children knowing the truth about Santa Claus?  I guess it’s that I worry that they will become jaded when it comes to believing in things they can’t see.  Because honestly (don’t laugh), when I think about Santa Claus and the North Pole, it kind of reminds me a little bit of my own longings for eternity.

I mean, really – what better place could there be than a cozy cottage in the middle of a wintery landscape with a roaring fire, where everyone is happy and are selflessly making toys for children around the world?  What could be better than a friendly, grand-fatherly elf who laughs all the time and whose goal it is to bring joy to all children?  What better place could there be, than a place where there aren’t any worries or tears?

I worry that my children will become extremely rational.  I worry that they’ll become only interested in tangible things.  I worry that when they think about the stories we tell them about heaven and about their Heavenly Father who loves them more than they could imagine, they’ll already be a little too jaded to believe that such a place or person could exist. 

Do I regret telling my kids that there is no Santa Claus?  No, of course I don’t.  But, I’m doing my best to always remind them that there is more – much more – to this world, to our existence, then what they can see.  There IS a place that we can’t yet see (although we get glimpses once in a while) where there will be no more tears, no more pain.  There is Someone watching them carefully and lovingly, and this Someone is writing a story that they get to be a part of. 

Music is an art form that utilizes our imagination.  It helps us to understand some of these things.  Good music will always gesture towards…something.  When we’re preparing music for worship, I try to remind the band that we are doing our best to create a context where God can be encountered.  A context where there is beauty and where we can step into eternity for a little while and worship our Creator.  It helps us to describe things that we are unable to use words for.

This is why I believe our imaginations are so important as Christians.  When we create, we imitate God.  It’s one of the important ways we bear His image.  And that is what we’re called to do here, isn’t it?  

Yes, our Creator is writing a story that we get to be a part of – AND it’s a story that’s even better than Santa Claus and the North Pole!

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