Friday, November 16, 2012

The Old Tree

The following entry was written 362 days ago, but today's events mirrored the description below. 

Sing it with me…

Oh Christmas tree
Oh Christmas tree
How beautiful are your branches

Our poor tree needs therapy. We concede that it’s not the prettiest tree on the block (we’ll eventually decorate it), but it sure has a story to tell.

Nearly three years ago, Ashley and I set out for what was supposed to be a relaxing walk around our neighborhood. As we rounded the corner and headed for a nearby park, Ashley spotted something in the distance. I saw a smile flash across her face, and I realized we were in for a detour. Dumped on the side of the road was quite possibly the ugliest Christmas tree I had ever seen. A crumpled sign was taped to it that read, “Please Take”.

As we got closer, I realized why nobody had taken the owners up on their free offer. This tree had serious issues. To say that it was mangled would be putting it nicely. I wanted to walk on by, but Ashley had different plans. You could see her wheels turning. She saw something that I didn’t see. In her mind she pictured the finished product, but I just saw a giant hassle.

A few minutes later I was pushing this big, ugly tree into the back of our explorer. It didn’t fit, so I tried convincing her that it wasn’t meant to be. She didn’t buy it. So, I got behind the tree, assumed a football stance, and rammed this poor tree into the back of our car. The door finally closed, and I let out a loud groan. Ashley laughed with excitement.

I don’t know what she did to that tree, but by the time the sun set it actually looked quite nice. I apologized for my lack of belief in her tree restoration skills and committed to being more open to her ideas in the future.

We made our annual trip to the basement today to fetch the once abandoned tree. It’s the same process every year. We pick up the tree and start up the stairs only to realize that it doesn’t fit. And each year you can hear me—face buried in pokey fake tree branches—belt out, “PUSH HARDER!” We force our way to the top of the stairs, and Ashley spends the next few hours fixing the damaged branches and crushed lights.

Why do we still have this old tree? Why don’t we go out and buy a prettier one? Surely it would be a good idea to buy a smaller tree--one that actually fits up the stairs. But, we can’t. We must not. Even with all its aesthetic flaws, it serves as a continual reminder of what Christmas is all about.

Christmas is a season to celebrate restoration. Our broken and mangled lives restored by the most unthinkable plan; our once severed relationship with the Almighty restored by the giving of a Son.

Is God really that good? Would he really do that? Does he really care that much? Indeed. He’s making all things new. He’s restoring today. He’s rebuilding lives. There’s nothing in your life that’s too dark or ugly for God’s redemptive hand to touch. There’s not a relationship that’s too cold for God to restore.

I’m filled with anticipation for this to be a special Christmas season. At the Jenkins house, we refuse to believe this is just another busy Holiday season that requires us to bust out the credit card and buy a bunch of presents. This is a season to slow down, reflect, and recapture a sense of awe towards God. That won’t come naturally; we’ll have to intentionally fight for it.

Why shouldn't we view Christmas from a different angle this year? Let's believe for great things. Let's expect restoration--restoration of hearts, relationships, and joy. Consider the response of the angel Gabriel as Mary questioned his virgin-birth announcement: “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

Make it a special season.

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