Our son, Keithen, and daughter-in-law, Jessica, have perhaps gone overboard with a new-found passion. They have become big-time fans of inflatable Christmas decorations. Last Christmas season, they started off with two inflatables for their yard. This year, they have approximately 40 blow-ups stationed in their yard.
Their oldest daughter, Kinsley, is embarrassed by it all. She said that all of the high school kids that ride her school bus have been taking pictures when the bus stops to pick her up.
Last week, Keithen bought a sheet of plywood. He and Jessica decorated it in Christmas terms, and cut out holes about standard height for faces to be seen. They situated it strategically in the yard, and have extended the invitation for local people to stop by and take pictures of themselves with all the inflatables in the background.
Now, what adds a bit of humor to all this for the Branches is what granddaughter, Elena, calls these decorations. She refers to them as “deflatables,” which is true when you stop to think about the other hand of it.
I have to admit that this inflatable mania with Keithen and Jessica has rubbed off on me a bit, for I have purchased three four-foot inflatables and have placed them on my front porch for this season. Elena was with me the day after Thanksgiving when I set them up, and she could hardly wait for Paw to “air up his deflatables.”
But, as often is the case in the progressions of daily living, the Lord imparted a bit of a spiritual vision as it involved these inflatable / deflatable yard ornaments. A certain Christian image emerges from this process, teaching us a spiritual lesson from the inflating and deflating of the decorations.
Obviously, when the power starts the little fans in these decorations, they inflate to size. But, when the power is turned off, they deflate into a flattened heap. The Christian experience is characterized by the same. Times are when the typical Christian experiences the unique inflating of the particular blessings of God. At other times, there are periods of time spent in deflation.
This is portrayed in the experience of the prophet, Elija. At Mount Carmel, he was inflated in large proportion with the fullness of ministry for the Lord. The next moment, he was deflated to the point of thinking it was all over for him. What was the problem for him?
In so many terms, it was found in an inconsistent connection to the power of God. At Mount Carmel, the power was clearly connected, and his spiritual fan efficiently blew him up to size for God. Later on, however, the power got disconnected to his spiritual fan somehow, and he deflated into a powerless spiritual heap.
If this type of up-and-down experience typifies our Christian life, then we need to be conscious of deliberate adjustment as it is needed. The Word of God instructs us to “be FILLED with the Spirit.” We are also instructed to be FILLED with the joy of the Lord. We are to be FILLED with the peace of the Lord. We are to be FILLED with the knowledge of the Lord, and with the fullness of the Lord.
Each of these points has a direct correlation to staying connected to the power of the Lord. What are these power points to which we should be connected? It goes back to the same things consistently advocated by the Word of God: worship, Bible study, fellowship with believers, faith, to name just a few. One cannot help to be connected to the Lord and not have the soul and spirit inflated.
The consequences are both evident and effective. An inflatable Christian brings no uncertain amounts of gladness to other people. An inflatable Christian lives out a proactive witness to the goodness of God.
The Christmas inflatables are certainly decorative. But, they also manifest an applicable Christian truth.
No – I do not foresee filling my yard next season with Christmas inflatables like Keithen and Jessica. At best, maybe two more to even out the decorations on my front porch for this year and the future. No more. No more – well, maybe.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.
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