The moment finally arrived! Only two weeks until Christmas Day, and we were about to pick out this year’s Christmas tree. This could be no ordinary tree. No, this would be a tree unlike any other; unlike any we’ve ever had or seen before. The truck stops and we scamper across the tree field. Everyone does a remarkable job playing their part. James and both the kids pretending they are looking for the tree. Even my dad gets in on the action. Nevertheless, they know as well as I that I am, always have been, and always will be the only one capable of making the decision; the lone individual with an eye for spotting the one. Most years it takes a while, seizing up countless noble firs, checking for unseen holes, guaranteeing just the right height. This year however, I spot it almost instantly, and I exclaim loudly to all, “I’ve found it! This is the one!”
We take great care making a level cut, assuring our tree stands straight and proud. We load her up and anxiously anticipate getting her home. Upon arrival, my husband fits her into a secure tree stand, immediately filling it with water. We turn her left, then right, then left again, until her best side is displayed for all to admire. Right away I begin the process of beautifying my tree. There are steps that must be taken; none can be forgotten, none performed out of order.
1. The lights. The lights must go on first and they must go on evenly. We take great care to leave no spot unlit. These lights form the foundation and will reflect off all other items placed on the tree.
2. The beads. The beads are hung just so from one branch to another. They take each lone bough, connecting it to the next, and the next, and the next, until every twig, limb, and stick are unified as one grand tree.
3. The ornaments. Every ornament is handpicked for its precise branch. The strongest branch carries the heaviest bulb. The weaker branches bear a much smaller burden. Each is responsible for its single load and each is given only what it is capable of enduring.
4. The tree top. The tree top is the crown of the tree. This is the frosting on the cupcake, the cherry on the pie, the caramel on the ice cream. The tree is simply unfinished without its top.
And…… after careful attention and precise tending, our tree is complete. Starting out as nothing more than an ordinary plant, standing amongst a hundred others, our tree was handpicked and carefully formed into a masterpiece. It was tenderly trimmed and meticulously adorned until it became a unique and striking work of art.
The life of this tree (short as it is) bears numerous similarities to our lives as children of God. Feeling as if we are nothing, as one amongst billions of others, our God handpicks us to become His and only His. He chooses us and grants us His Holy Spirit, the light of true life, reflecting off everyone and everything; a light that lights up the darkness, shinning in the black of night. He takes each stage of our existence, each joy, each trial, each failure, and success, using them all together for good. He observes our strengths and considers our weaknesses, carefully teaching and training, instructing us in His ways, enabling us to glorify Him through burdens heavy and light. All the while He is forming us into a perfect child, a sanctified being, until that day when we receive our everlasting crown of righteousness. And finally, as He admires the work of His hands, he declares, “It is good!”
For by one offering He has perfected forever
those who are being sanctified.
those who are being sanctified.