A “Dickens-Of-A-Business”… Hello Hump Day Readers! Today’s devotion is a product of my searching for interesting things to think about during this Advent to Christmas season. My thoughts actually turned quickly to Ebenezer Scrooge and the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. If you’re like me, I love to watch the movies of A Christmas Carol. My top favorites of the many adaptations are the one with George C. Scott and a later version with Patrick Stewart. The early one with Albert Finney is also good but you sure need to tune your ears into his thick British accent!
“The Dickens Project” group is an interesting bunch of folks who have delved into the mind and writing by Charles Dickens, and especially his novel A Christmas Story. One historian states: “In all his writings, Charles Dickens—a Christian of the broadest kind—is outspoken in his dislike of evangelicalism and Roman Catholicism, but, especially in his fiction, he is very reluctant to make professions of a specific faith beyond the most general sort of Christianity.” The folks from the “Dickens Project” said this angst about God and faith in his own life was well-represented in A Christmas Carol in a rather profound truth from the book:
“Confronted one night by the ghost of his crooked business partner – and warned to mend his ways – the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge cries out in exasperation, “But you were always a good man of business in life, Jacob!” To which the miserable ghost replies…
“Business! Man-kind was my business… charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
He pounded home in his story the fact that our lives are meant for so much more than chasing our own ambitions, which—when reading his famous novel—is obviously front and center. Scrooge was a heartless, mad, and isolated man because everything he did was “for himself.” All the money in the world would not make him happy. He learned in “ghostly way” that the very truth is a life dedicated to making yourself happy will only make you miserable!
God calls us to a ‘different business’ – to live our lives using God’s business plans! A life lived for God includes those whom God puts in your path. In our scurrying to have the “best Christmas ever” do we turn our preparations to the best tree, the best decorated home, the best—fill in your own—or do we “go about our business” using God’s principal guidelines?
In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote:
“For we are the product of His hand,
heaven’s poetry etched on lives,
created in the Anointed, Jesus,
to accomplish the good works
God arranged long ago.”
—Ephesians 2:10 [The Voice]
Paul nailed it! Our true business in this life is to be about God’s business. That’s not always easy to do. Self-denial isn’t a very popular concept, yet it’s required as we obey Christ’s calling. Going back to the novel, we see the three “ghosts of Christmas past” working to break old Ebenezer Scrooge of his selfishness and his inability to be humble.
I find myself in this novel because it can be so easy to strive for self rather than live humbly with selflessness. I haven’t had any ghosts talking to me, but indeed I have the Holy Spirit pricking my conscience when I like to do “life my way.”
As I close this devotion, I urge us all to do an inventory of how we practice our “God-business.” Then ask ourselves what is most difficult for us to give to build up the body of Christ—time, talents, money, possessions? And then ponder on Jesus who took God’s business plan to heart by humbling himself to become one of us, so we could be with Him now and to eternity. In the ‘changed Scrooge’ we get one last glimpse into how God changes our lives for the better. Dickens wrote:
“And it was always said of him that
he knew how to keep Christmas well,
if any man alive possessed the knowledge.
May that be truly said of us, and all of us!
And so, as Tiny Tim observed,
God bless Us, Every One!”