One of the things you notice about “Old Scrooge” (as opposed to the changed one, post-hauntings) is that he just can’t enjoy a holiday:
“But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.”
And, “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business… mine occupies me constantly.”
The reason, Marley’s ghost tells him, is his invisible chains – forged “link by link and yard by yard” while chasing a golden idol – instead of receiving the true meaning of the season.
But we all know the outcome: Scrooge gets an “unexpected holiday” to see where it all leads.
What’s the moral? Getting a glimpse of one’s end beforehand is a good thing; it provides a much-needed wake-up call of sorts.
Christmas provides an excellent opportunity to heed that wake-up call – to remember what’s most needful. It might not be a golden idol you’re chasing, but chances are you’re chasing after something. No doubt it’s something that seems good and needful…
That’s when Marley’s regret might hit you: “Business? Mankind was my business…”
Learning from Past and Future
So when the wake-up call comes, like Scrooge, don’t dismiss it. Allow yourself the time to entertain…
- the “ghost” that will show you your past story:
Was there a time (either recently or years ago) when something brought pain, sorrow, or shame – maybe a relationship break-down or loss – and you began to let your heart grow cold? Examining our past can help us see why we chose certain roads, and what desire/substitute crept in to take control of our heart rather than Christ.
2. a visit from the spirit of Christmas future:
Ask yourself, “What will life be like if I continue on this path I’ve chosen? What regrets or failures in love might haunt me?” After all, no will regret at their life’s end that they didn’t engage in more business!
Lest these “visitations” keep you under a cloud of condemnation, there’s good news! Christmas comes to us again, right in the middle of our shame and regret, and doesn’t ask us to first reform ourselves. It’s always a gift.
Are your hands so full of your own plans to fix things that you can’t receive His love?
Remember the order of things: receive (again) as you first did, and then you will love as you have been first loved. It’s all of grace, throughout our whole story.
This Christmas season, may we reflect on the road we’ve been traveling and pause to receive the Savior’s love. Only then will we heed this best of wake-up calls to show us what’s most important:
“Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”