The Polar Express continued

Last time we began with The Polar Express. A young boy has just one thing on his mind – is Santa real, or not? Everything else in this life is tangible and material, may strain the rules of logic, but never breaks them. How could Santa and the North Pole be any different?

But his younger self is very conflicted. Lying in his bed on Christmas Eve, he was “listening for a sound I was afraid I’d never hear. The ringing bells of Santa’s sleigh.”

Just then, a steam engine train pulls up in front of his house on tracks that were never there. It’s extremely loud, causing his whole house to vibrate, but only he is stirred. He walks outside in the snow and speaks to the conductor, but when invited to step on board for the North Pole . . . he hesitates.

Can he trust this? He only has a moment to decide, for the train is getting ready to leave. More in him must want to believe than not, for he goes ahead and boards.

In previous newsletters I have said, “Stories are about us, a mirror in which we can see ourselves, our hopes and dreams, but also our greatest dilemmas. Stories can communicate great truths and touch us deeply, often without our awareness.”

What might The Polar Express be about, truly? If someone meant for there to be a greater message in this screenplay, what might it be?

All children who believe in Santa will come to a time when they begin to doubt. When they were very young, they believed almost anything their parents told them. There is an innocence at this age that always believes and is not skeptical enough to question, but also accepts their limited knowledge of the world and wants to follow those they love and trust.

Interestingly, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whomever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3-4 NASB

Is it possible we will never be able to understand and receive what could be the most important thing in this life unless we are converted back into the children we were, when our hearts were just this humble, receptive, and open?

Watch The Polar Express and try to focus not on the object of this young boy’s faith — Santa and the North Pole — but on the struggle within to exercise this faith in someone transcendent.

Our young boy has just recently been losing the child he always was. For the first time in his life he is beginning to believe this physical, material world is all there is, the only thing we can be sure of.

For us as adults, beginning to believe in God, it is the opposite in a way. We lost our childhood innocence a long time ago. It is a great struggle to begin to find our way back at all. But we must, Jesus said, if we are ever to believe.

Could it be, as we watch this young boy struggle, over and over again, to believe in something so much bigger and greater than him –- we are watching exactly what goes on within our own hearts as we struggle to believe in something greater, in Someone greater?

Were we all not hesitant when first invited to believe — by a loved one, a friend, a sermon, a book, or just the tumultuous circumstances of our lives? Hesitant to accept the “invitation” and “step onboard?”

And faith is not something that happens just once and is sealed. At any moment we can find ourselves right back in the same place, the very place this young boy finds himself in, as he scrunches up his face, trying to decide, is this real? Or maybe even, which is more real?

Should I act in a particular situation in my life based on just what I can see with my own eyes and understand with my own logic . . . or should I consider how God might see this?

Should I move forward according to what is most important to me . . . or most important to God? What might be most important to Him? How can I know?

And ultimately, should I follow my will . . . or His?

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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Once Upon a Time by Samuel L. Blumenthal, Ph D.