Today I put up our Christmas tree. Dang it’s a lot of work.
We bought a “pre-lit tree” about 6 years ago. It was our first tree to purchase for our family. We always had a tree, of course…but they were hand me downs from friends or family. This tree was OURS. Bought on black Friday. For less than $100. But it was ours. And it was once pre-lit.
By “pre-lit,” I mean it was made to put together and plug in and within 5 minutes be lighting up your living room with the Christmas glow everyone loves. It did that. Once. Every year since it has been a 7 1/2 foot grinch with leaves.
This year, instead of covering the dead lights up with new ones like I had in previous years, I decided to take the time to remove them so I could start fresh. Same tree. New lights. That was the plan. Fast forward to bloody hands, worn out arms, and a total disaster….and you have a naked tree.
But the process was not lost on me.
After I made the decision to remove the old lights (sometime this morning) I grabbed a stool and some scissors. I started at the bottom and worked my way up…throughout the day…I spent hours. Every branch had a strand attached to it. Attached with zip ties, knots, and plastic clamps. As I pried the clamps one by one and forcefully snipped the zip ties with gritted teeth, I began to think about my own life. The way sin so quickly grabs ahold of the branches that God created to display beauty in me. Bitterness. Anger. Pain. How much of the time do I make vows with myself. I will never…
I’m clamping on another dead strand. Tightening the zip tie. And as it winds it’s way around my branches I feed it with arrogant thoughts of self sufficiency and entitlement and I nurture it. I rehearse the lies from the enemy of my soul.
He doesn’t get it and he never will.
She owes me.
He should’ve known better.
I would never have done such a thing.
That (team, company, group, restaurant) never gets it right. I deserve to have it right. Now. I’m paying them, after all.
It IS all about me….right? This whole life thing? If I don’t look out for me WHO WILL???
Sin creeping along my branches. Tangling up the life that is supposed to flow out of them and into others. It happens so quickly. And often with friends applauding…or quietly offering smirks of approval. Who am I surrounding myself with?
You deserve it.
No one will ever know.
Isn’t that the biggest lie? No one will ever know. Just do it. Whatever it is you want to do. Feed. Your. Flesh. What harm is there?
And the cancerous vine wrangles the branches and threatens to destroy any life that is left.
His gaze is on us, His children. He has decided that we will shine. We weren’t made to be adorned with dark, dead lights. He lovingly sits down, shears in hand. Oh it’s serious. But there’s no need to make a scene. We are safe with Him. He’s skillfully, intentionally, cutting away.
Be still, little tree.
The Gardener is here. He knows what He’s doing. It’s time to shine. Let Him cut. Let Him snip. Let Him pry things off. Let Him show you where you’re feeding the ties that hold the branches back from growing into a thing of beauty and blessing for the world to enjoy. Let Him. Be still. And be confident of this. That He who began a good work in you…will be faithful to complete it. For our GOOD. And for His glory. They can not be separated. His glory IS our good. It is. Oh…and nothing is ever wasted. He’s a God of redemption.
The Spirit has been stirring in me for awhile now. Through LIFE and experience and conversation with the saints….and prayer and HIS WORD, He’s planting deep truths and life giving concepts that I cannot possibly contain in this body. I want to speak it. He has so much to say…and many are saying it…but He continues to just stir.up.my.soul…and it’s starting to overflow. I wish it would pour over faster, more eloquently, in large settings and with more AMENs. But for now, I will wait, pray, be still, and invite Him daily to bring in the shears. Cut it away Lord. I want to shine. Shine LIFE. BIG. And FREE. Abundant life. Hidden in Christ…so that all they see is YOU.
Don’t let the process be lost on me.
On US Lord.
Don’t let the process get lost. It’s where you are. In the middle of the pain…in the middle of the anger….in the middle of the bitterness…in the middle of the fear…with the grace to obey. To be clean. To make the Christlike choice. To think the Christlike thoughts. To walk in NEWNESS of life. Raised UP. Bowed DOWN. Because YOU are worth it. Humble us. Change us. Make. Us. New.