Did a prankster puncture him? Did his valve leak? Had he never been inflated in the first place? It was a bit disconcerting to see the heap of red and white beside the front door of the house down the street. Poor Santa. Unfortunately, I could identify.
I remember once when I was a kid and still ran to get from Point A to Point B, I fell down and got the breath knocked out of me. Unable to catch my breath for those few seconds that felt like an eternity, I thought I was about to die. (Actually this might be the incident that caused me to give up running forever.) So, seeing Santa lying there in such an undignified manner stirred a good bit of sympathy in me.
I felt for him not only because of the aforesaid near-death experience but also because of other episodes that have punctured my pride or burst my bubble or deflated my ego, not to mention those that have completely taken the wind out of my sails. During those times I suppose I felt just like that heap of plastic on the ground — helpless.
As I walked on by, like the priest and the Levite in the Good Samaritan story, I hoped that someone would help him out. It was pitiful, but I had cookies to bake and wedding favors to make. I felt sure that when his family came home, they would give him the necessary air transfusion and help him stand upright once more so that he could resume his duties of maintaining his fixed smile and permanent wave for the enjoyment of passers-by.
I guess even someone as cheerful and jolly as Santa gets the breath knocked out of him once in a while. Thankfully, there is hope. His form simply needs to be filled up again so that he can be himself once more. He has been “struck down but not destroyed,” as Paul reassured his friends in Corinth.
I remember lying on the ground that day in my back yard, waiting . . . . All I wanted was the life-giving breath that would enable me to get up and move about again. The need for oxygen had suddenly become the only thought in my head. Finally. . . the rush of air into my lungs was such a relief! I would not die; I would live! Thanks be to God!
I had been struck down but not destroyed. My breath came back.
On other occasions when I have felt flattened by circumstances and have not been able to pick myself up off the ground, I have only been able to look up helplessly. During those times I have gasped for air and been filled again by the One Who Sees and Cares.
Flat Santa cannot pick himself up. He has to have help. So do I.