|Forgive the bright light. The sun is shining here!|
This lovely, lovely tree came home to our house on Thanksgiving weekend. My dad helped Ryan and I bring it home, get it set up in its water stand, and I enjoyed an afternoon of Michael Buble Christmas music and lovingly trimming its branches with every single ornament we have. Normally I only put up the pretty (read: meaningless) ornaments, but this year every ornament on the tree is represented.
|The little Santa bell from Playa del Carmen.|
|"Baby's First Christmas" ornament from 1984.|
|Detroit Tigers baseball (naturally)|
|Christmas really brings out the magnanimous nature in me - I even brought out the Western ornaments.|
|...including this kind of creepy little guy.|
|Handpainted treasures from our son. He was kind of going for a Claude Monet look.|
|A little latte ornament because one of my students from last year picked up on the fact that I'm in love with Starbucks.|
There are many, many more crazy ornaments up here. I love it. I used to fight the kitschy ornaments but now I love them. Each one of them has a story behind it.
Our tree is lit every night as we go about our business in the living room, which is the same room as the dining room and kitchen (little house). Last week I noticed that a great deal of pine needles were carpeting the tree skirt and covering the actual living room carpet. Ryan told me that the tree was starting to dry out, despite our desperate attempt to keep the tree watered and healthy.
The past week, the tree has shown more and more signs of decline. The inner branches are starting to look brown. Literally when you touch the tree, or sit down too forcefully on one of the nearby couches, you can hear pine needles hitting the presents below. Last night as Ryan and I watched a movie, the tree spontaneously shed about a thousand needles all at once and we listened as the gifts below the tree were pelted for ten seconds straight. At this rate, I don't know if this tree is going to make it to Christmas - tomorrow.
So from far away, our tree loooks lovely with its lights, baseball ornaments, tulle, and keepsakes. But upon closer inspection, here is what you'll find:
|Bare branches. Note the plethora of pine needles below.|
Despite outward appearances, our tree is dying right before our very eyes.
Now, lest you think that this is a cancer analogy, it's not. I'm not writing this blog to talk about hidden diseases or medical issues or anything like that.
I'm telling you that a lot of us are like that tree, whether we are physically healthy or not.
"...but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:14
These words were spoken a couple of thousand years ago by the very man whose birth we are celebrating tomorrow. He had encountered a Samaritan woman and he broke many cultural barriers by actually speaking to her. He confronted her about her wayward life - her many broken relationships and her current adulterous one - and told her about what was the only thing in life that would fulfill her desperate need.
I have been that Samaritan woman at different points of my life, covering up a multitude of sins by trying to appear outwardly like I had things pulled together, all the while drowning in a sea of sin, self-pity, and selfishness.
I'm willing to bet that many of you that are reading this can identify with having a sore need for Christ's forgiveness and His living water. Many of you are bone dry, tired, and losing your needles at an alarming rate - yet keeping up appearances.
Jesus came into this world to heal, forgive, redeem, and restore. The same baby that lay in the manger is the man who was whipped, abused, nailed to a cross, and rose again to defeat sin that we may live abundantly.
It's too late for my Christmas tree. On December 27th, it will be stripped of its ornaments, dragged out of my house while leaving behind an enormous amount of needles for me to vacuum up. It will join its cousins in the forest behind our house and rot away.
But it's not too late for you to experience Christ's forgiveness and drink of His living water.
I pray that this Christmas season would be one of refreshment for you, whether you already know Christ or not. Our family continues to live with the hope that He is a healer of every physical hurt, and every spiritual need. He is our Savior - our everything.