Take a stroll with me down memory lane, will you? Depending on your age, these will hit you differently. These are (ready for it?) some highlights from the top Christmas gift-crazes since the ’80s.
1983: Cabbage Patch Kids – dolls that grew out of heads of cabbage
1985: Teddy Ruxpin – animatronic talking teddy bear
1989: Nintendo Game Boy – portable gaming machine
1993: TalkBoy – portable cassette recorder made famous in Home Alone 2
1995: Beanie Babies – cross between a stuffed animal and a small portable bean bag
1996: Tickle Me Elmo – tickling, laughing high-pitched red monster
1997: Tamagotchi – handheld virtual “pet”
1998: Furby – electronic soft toy resembling a mix between an owl and a hamster
2004: Robosapien – biomorphic robotic toy
2009: Zhu Zhu Pets – plush robotic hamsters
2013: Big Hugs Elmo – the squeezable red monster
2015: Remote Control BB-8 – Star Wars fans’ new favorite robot
2017: Fingerlings – a little monkey that wraps around your finger
Do you remember any of those?
Because most of them sent hundreds of thousands of people (I’m sure not you.) storming store-to-store to find that best, most-beloved, top-selling, have-to-have-it Christmas gift for their child…or, maybe, themselves.
How long do you think the joy of these toys lasted?
Some longer than others. But, mostly, not very long. Because, there’s something about human nature that pulls us to the next best thing.
The children of Israel were no different. Go read for yourself in Exodus 5 through 32.
I’ll give you the CliffsNotes:
God rescues the Israelites from slavery in Egypt by imparting plagues on the Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Then He draws apart the waters of the Red Sea so they can escape safely on dry land, bringing them out of slavery into the desert. Into freedom.
But at the first sign of hardship there, they begin complaining: If only we had died in Egypt!
Fast forward through more miraculous feats of God – more proof of His faithfulness. Followed by more Israelite griping. And eventually God ascends on a mountain to reveal Himself to the people. He reminds them that He is God and not to make any other idols before Him.
Guess what they do not long after. They make an idol and they worship it.
Even though God had proven to be faithful time and time again. The Israelites were forgetful. And they kept looking for the next big thing.
Here’s what I know about the next big thing: it really is only a few heartbeats before it’s the last big thing. Yesterday’s news. That’s why it’s always such a dead-end to chase “cool.” As soon as you finally get there, it’s not cool. And you’re on your way to the next dead end.
We worship the God-Almighty, who was faithful to the Israelites and is still faithful to us today. In Exodus 3:6 God says to Moses:
I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.
Grandfather. Son. Grandson.
Past. Present. Future.
Ours is a God who spans generations.
And when we forget that, we begin to put our hope in the next big thing – in things that will not satisfy.
Now, read this poem from the Psalms. It’s a poem of gratitude and appreciation for the law given to Moses during the Israelites’ time in the desert.
Your word, Lord, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
Now, re-read that. Let it soak in. Write it down. Make this your anthem this week.
Let us strive to end our constant chasing of the next big thing and instead chase the One who was, and is, and is to come.