“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’ s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful … Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-14a,16 (NIV)
In just a few weeks, the Christmas tree hunt will be on. Families will enter tents and patrol sidewalks. The preferences are different, but the desire is the same. We want the perfect Christmas tree. And, oh … the special moment when we find it. When we lash it to the car, drag it into the house and set it in the tree stand.
Only a few people have won a U.S. Open, completed an Ironman triathlon or qualified as Rhodes Scholars. Fewer still have positioned a Christmas tree so that it doesn’t lean.
One year, my wife Denalyn and I placed the tree in the stand, stood back and sighed at what we saw. The dreaded tilt. I crawled under the branches and began adjusting the screws until the tree stood as straight as a stalk of wheat. We stepped back and admired my engineering skills. Denalyn placed her arm in mine, and I choked back tears of joy. Angels began to sing. The blast of trumpets sounded in the front yard, where neighbors gathered. We strung lights and hung the decorations. It was a wonderful night.
Then disaster struck.
The tree started to lean again. Decorations shook, lights shifted, Denalyn shouted, and I ran to the rescue. This time I placed the tree on its side, removed the stand and saw the root of the problem. Our tree was crooked! What’s a person to do? As I was retrieving a saw from the garage, it occurred to me: I’m not the first father to deal with this issue. God faces this situation on a continual basis. Don’t we have our share of unattractive bents? I know I do.
I wish I stood as straight as a sequoia, but I don’t. And since I don’t, I find a kindred spirit in the crooked Christmas tree. I think you will find the same. What you do for a tree, God does for you.
He picked you.
He knows just where you’ll be placed. He has a barren living room in desperate need of warmth and joy. A corner of the world needs some color. As King David once wrote, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful … all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-14a, 16b)
God made you on purpose, for a purpose. He interwove calendar and character, circumstance and personality to create the right person for the right corner of the world, and then He paid the price to take you home.
We don’t ask the tree-lot owner to give us the tree for free. We make the necessary payment. God did the same: “For God bought you with a high price” (1 Corinthians 6:20a, NLT).
The Christmas promise is this: We have a Savior, and His name is Jesus.
We don’t know why the cross of Christ is often called a tree. Perhaps the earliest crosses were actually trees. Or since crosses were formed from trees, maybe the name stuck. But whatever the reason, the first-century writers often called the cross a tree.
Somewhere on the timeline between the Tree of Knowledge in the garden and the Tree of Life in heaven is the Tree of Sacrifice near Jerusalem. And if Christmas trees are known for beauty and gifts, then who would deny that the most wonderful Christmas tree ever was that old rugged one?
In the manger God loves you, through the cross He saves you, but has He taken you home? Not yet. He has work for you to do.
Once He stabilizes us, the decorating begins. Our task is to stand tall in His love, secure in our place, sparkling in kindness, surrounded by His goodness, freely giving to all who come our way.
You, me and the Christmas tree. Picked, purchased and pruned. Trust God’s work. You’re going to look much better without the bents.
Lord, infuse us with Your sense of purpose today. Give us confidence You have us where You want us and are working in and through us. Give us patience as You prune us, and help us to stand secure in the place You have put us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 15:1-2, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (NIV)
1 Peter 3:18a, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (NIV)
No matter what you're going through this holiday season, you aren't alone. Sign up for our next Online Bible Study, Because of Bethlehem: Every Day a Christmas, Every Heart a Manger by Max Lucado, and experience the Christmas story in a whole new way. Our 4-week study kicks off November 11. Save your spot!
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Do you feel unneeded or rejected? Take some time to consider why you might be in the place, career, family or social circle you’re in. Can you see a bigger purpose?
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