Now that you know more about Ebenezer Scrooge…

Now that you know more about Ebenezer Scrooge, and especially his childhood, can you feel some compassion for this nasty, greedy old man? I hope so. With enough humility, we should be able to admit if we’d walked in his shoes, we could have turned out much the same — with wealth, but literally all alone in this world.

Often when a person comes to faith it is because of crisis. Significant circumstances unravel in your life and all your efforts to right the ship fail. You may even come to the end of yourself. You never knew it, but you had trusted in something far too much your whole life, like Ebenezer. And just like him, you may have thought you chose it, that it was a good thing, maybe even the best thing.

You were never able to see that over time it became an addiction that eventually controlled your whole life, controlled you. What you first believed would make life good, possibly even save you, turned out to be the cruelest of taskmasters. Who would have thought?

Charles Dickens made Ebenezer’s story much simpler than most of ours. God just seems to show up unannounced in the form of Jacob Marley’s ghost, and then as the three Christmas Spirits. Ebenezer was not in the midst of any crisis, he was just as arrogant and conceited as he’d always been.

So, why did God choose to reach out to him on this Christmas Eve? Why would He think Ebenezer might finally be willing to admit the truth about himself? I really don’t know, but God was right. Ebenezer did.

Ebenezer’s story should scare us, but not only because we might end up in hell. It should scare us because once we begin to walk down a path of our own devices, usually very early in life, we really have no clue where it’s going and ultimately what it will demand of us. Although we don’t see it, we have stepped onto a perilous path which can never turn out well.

But I hope you can also see that in other ways, Ebenezer got exactly what he wanted. As C.S. Lewis noted, we will find what we seek. The enormous pain in his heart from being so thrown away and forgotten by his father, drove him to pursue wealth, something he believed would allow him to feel accomplished, worthy, even valuable. And to some degree it did, but it could never heal the original wound which was so much more personal and intimate. Only the unconditional love of God could do that.

And Ebenezer made sure he was never thrown away and forgotten again, for he never allowed anyone the opportunity. His horrible attitude kept others running in the other direction, on purpose.

But on this Christmas Eve, from the very beginning of his long, strange journey, Ebenezer’s heart begins to change. He begins to have real compassion for those he has mistreated, and he is able to acknowledge his cruelty and greed with humility and contrition. And as the evening progresses, his conviction about all of this only grows. By the time he wakes up in his bedroom on Christmas morning, he is hardly recognizable. The journey had the intended effect. He is a new creation.

Although Ebenezer was first startled by the warnings of his partner’s ghost, the greater story is that God’s kindness led to his repentance. God pursued Ebenezer, not the other way around. And the spirits tenderly began with his boarding school, sympathizing with the enormous pain that originated there.

As the spirits took him on a tour of his life, they never shamed him, but only showed him the truth, exactly who he’d chosen to be. Most importantly, they showed him how his decision to pursue wealth at the expense of all else was the cause of his misery, he could just never see it. Their compassionate touch healed him. He received years of loving therapy, all condensed into one evening.

I want to share with you a simple formula God has shared with me. Ebenezer’s story confirms it once again. It is simply — Idolatry, Repentance, Deliverance.

We all have idols in our lives, things we worship instead of God. There is only one real remedy, repentance. And if we are sincere in this, God will deliver us. I know. Ebenezer too.

Next time


Welcome, I'm Sam!

A fellow traveler on this journey we call life and this path we call the Christian faith, wanting to speak to anyone who will listen about the incredible things that God (only because of His incredible grace) chose to reveal to me. Stories have always been a mirror in which we can see ourselves, if we only look more closely. We are all like the children of Israel in the wilderness, wanting and needing to establish ourselves in the promised land. Stories can help us to get there, and to flourish there.

I can't wait to get to know you!


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