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A Christmas Story – Someone Who Forgot

So the word of God became a human being and lived among us. We saw his splendor, the splendor of a Father’s only son, full of grace and truth.      

John 1.14 (Phillips)

The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is never forget the presence of Christ.      

William Barclay


In Something by Tolstoi Tennessee Williams tells the story of Jacob Brodzky, a shy Russian Jew whose father owned a bookstore. The elder Brodzky wanted his son to go to college. But Jacob desired nothing but to marry Lila, his childhood sweetheart, a French girl as effusive, vital and ambitious as he was contemplative and retiring. A few short months after young Brodzky went to college, his father fell ill and died. Jacob returned home, buried his father and married his love. The couple moved in the apartment above the bookstore and Jacob took over its management.

The life of books fit him perfectly, but it cramped Lila. She wanted more adventure, and she found it, she thought, when she met an agent who praised her beautiful singing voice and enticed her to tour Europe with a vaudeville company. Jacob Brodzky was devastated. As they parted, he reached into his pocket and handed her a key to the front door of the bookstore.

“You had better keep this,” Jacob told her, “because you will want it someday. Your love is not so much less than mine that you can get away from it. You will come back sometime and I will be waiting.”

She kissed him goodbye and left. To escape the pain he felt, Brodzky withdrew deep into his bookstore and took to reading as someone else might have taken to drink. He spoke little, did little and could most times be found at the large desk near the rear of the shop, immersed in his books while he waited for Lila to return.

At Christmastime, nearly 15 years after they parted, Lila did return. But when Brodzky rose from the reading desk that had been his place of escape for all that time, he did not recognize the love of his life for more than an ordinary customer. “Do you want a book?” he asked.

That he didn’t recognize her startled her. But Lila gained her composure and replied, “I want a book, but I’ve forgotten the name of it.” She then told him a story of childhood sweethearts. A story of a newly married couple who lived in an apartment above a bookstore. A story of a young, ambitious wife who left to seek a career, who enjoyed great success but could never relinquish the key, her husband gave her when they parted. As she told him the story she thought it would bring him to himself.

But his face showed no recognition. Gradually she realized that he had lost touch with his heart’s desire, that he no longer knew the purpose of his waiting and grieving. Now all he remembered was the waiting and grieving itself. “You remember it; you must remember it – the story of Lila and Jacob?”

After a long, bewildered pause, Jacob said, “There is something familiar about the story; I think I have read it somewhere. It comes to me that it is something by Tolstoi.”

Dropping the key, she fled the shop. And Brodzky returned to his desk, to his reading, totally unaware that the love he waited for had come and gone.

It’s all too human to begin looking for something and then forget what you’re seeking. And at that point it is easy to miss the object of your heart’s desire when it does cross your path. Either we have become distracted or we have so completely lost sight of who we are and what we care about that we cannot recognize the greatest desire of our heart.

What are you looking for this Christmas season? Power, influence, acceptance, significance, purpose, a meaningful relationship? Ultimately, the fulfillment of your deepest longings and your greatest need is found in the person of Christ Jesus. Forgiveness, restoration and transformation along with meaning and direction in life is yours in a relationship with the Savior. Don’t allow yourself to become so distracted that you let another Christmas come and go and miss out on your heart’s greatest desire.

As we conclude one year and begin another, what better time to reflect upon and evaluate our purpose, mission and direction. Where has God brought you? Where is He leading you? How has He worked to conform you to the image of Christ? Honest evaluation will keep you and your mission sharp.

Have a Merry Christmas!

“Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!” (2 Corinthians 9.15, The Message)

Dr. Greg Morris