definitely not santa claus.

Okay, so I hate taking posed, smiling pictures of people in groups. Even more so, I never put them on my blog, but I’m going to include one today, and you’re just going to have to forgive me.

Last weekend I drove to Marietta, Ga., my neck of the woods, to lead a DNow at Burnt Hickory Baptist Church in West Cobb County. I had the privilege of leading a group of amazing tenth grade girls, and it reminded me that it was soooo not that long ago that I was in their shoes. Oh to be a high school sophomore again.

The theme for the weekend was AWAKEN. Letting God awaken our hearts, minds, passion for serving others. The weekend was packed with lots of laughs, some tears, some singing, some dancing, more laughing, a great deal of squirrels, laaaarge amounts of diet coke, and great conversations.

As a group, we realized we all had the same problem. We all at one point or another had thought of God as an old man with a white beard, sitting up on a cloud somewhere looking down on us and making a checklist of the things we do right and the things we do wrong. Either that or we pictured him as Morgan Freeman.

Both ideas are completely wrong, though. And one of the biggest catch phrases that we repeated all weekend was “God is not Santa Claus.” He’s not somewhere up above making a “naughty” list and a “nice” list. Also, in quoting one of my fave Gungor songs,

“God is not a man
God is not an old man
God does not belong to Republicans
God is not a flag
Not even American
And God does not depend on a government

But God is good, God is good, and He loves everyone.”

White Man Song, Gungor

We realized we had forgotten it. It being the gospel. We’d become jaded by hearing “Jesus loves me this I know…” our whole lives that we didn’t even close to remember what that means for us and for those around us. We had forgotten that God loved us so much that He became the exact opposite of an old man sitting on a cloud, but He came to us just to tell us how much He loves us…just to show us His love.

So we spent the weekend reflecting through post-its on the walls, thinking about where we are, what God is teaching us, and where He is leading us.

The weekend was exhausting. But it was also refreshing. Weird, I know.

I just don’t want to forget the simple things. I don’t want to get so bogged down in the to-do list of life that I forget the joy of smiling in a snap shot. I don’t want to forget that God is not Santa Claus. And I never want to stop striving “to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth” of the love of God.

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