Maybe I’m the only person on the planet allergic to artificial Christmas trees, but our family goes every year to get a real tree. We’ve braved the winding back roads of North Carolina in a minivan, trekking up a windy snow-covered mountain for the perfect tree to cut. Now that we live in a Detroit suburb there’s a nursery lot full of pre-cut “perfect trees” (trucked in from North Carolina) just 2 miles from our house. Tree acquisition has been streamlined.
However, our excitement (especially that of the children) surrounding this event and all things Christmas remains undaunted. As we piled out of the tree-laden minivan, the children bounced up and down, mittened hands clapping with anticipation. They could hardly contain themselves waiting for Dad to untie the tree and bring it in for decorating. So they “organized” the Christmas decorations.
After all, nothing should be spared in preparing every child’s favorite evergreen gift receptacle for Christmas morning. Tissue paper flew as handmade ornaments were unwrapped. The children took great care unwrapping red, white and green satin stockings to hang over the fireplace, their little taste buds already primed for the chocolate and other treats that would fill the stockings Christmas morning.
Finally, the tree was on its way in! We moved furniture and rolled rugs to make way. The room buzzed with excitement as we filled the tree with lights, garland and treasured ornaments. And last we put a lovely white and gold angel — delicate and glowing — in her rightful place high atop the tree. The work done, we sat together on the couch and enjoyed the beauty of our Christmas tree.
Later that night I mulled over this year’s tree acquisition… how so much of our excitement came from anticipating the gifts. What a great frenzy of tree decorating and stocking hanging in preparation for receiving gifts — dolls, footballs, slippers, tools and ties. Yet how much preparation have we put into getting ready to receive the real gift of Christmas, Jesus Christ — God and Savior to all who believe in Him? Are we even trying to understand the meaning of the miraculous moment He came to earth? Jesus, “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself and became obedient to death — even death on cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)
There really are no perfect Christmas trees, or perfect lives, except that of Jesus. He lived a perfect life on earth as an example to us. Do you realize that the God of the universe loves you so much that He took on human form (fully God and fully man at the same time) and allowed men to nail Him to a cross, killing Him? Jesus did that because our sin had separated us from Him and that broke His heart. God created us for a personal loving relationship with Him, but He is perfect and holy. He cannot have anything to do with anyone who’s not — and that basically covers the whole human race, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Did you know that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for your sin, everything you’ve ever done or will do wrong? God wants you close to Him that much — now and for eternity. Did you know that all you have to do to begin experiencing God’s Presence on earth, and to know for sure that you will live forever with Jesus in the beauty of heaven, is to tell Him that you’re sorry for what you’ve done wrong and that you accept His death as having paid the penalty for those things? Is there any reason for you not to talk to Jesus right now if you haven’t asked Him to be your Savior already? What a gift!
And once you have this first gift from God, many others start to flow.
Jesus helps you bring balance into your life. God created human beings. (Genesis 1:27) He’s even better at organizing lives than our children are at organizing Christmas ornaments.
Jesus helps you move unnecessary clutter and busyness from your life, just like we moved furniture and rolled rugs to make room for the tree. (Matthew 11:29)
Jesus gives peace beyond understanding, regardless of circumstances. (Philippians 4:7)
Jesus gives hope because He is in control. Not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from God’s will (Matthew 10:29) and besides, this life on earth is not all there is. The troubles we face here are “light and momentary” compared to our future glory with God. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Jesus will show you your special purpose. As you seek and follow Him, Jesus will reveal what you’re made to do for Him and others with the talents He’s given you. God has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Jesus gives you the gift of his Holy Spirit when you ask Jesus to live in your heart. You’ll begin to sense the very Presence of God with you. The Holy Spirit will help you understand the Bible as you read it — God’s own Words to direct your thoughts, speech, actions and life.
These gifts are so much more exciting than slippers and ties! These gifts definitely warrant a frenzy of preparation!
So what will you do now, knowing that these gifts from the God of the universe are wrapped and waiting for you? Will you pray to ask Jesus to be your Savior? Will you get a Bible, read it and start to listen for His special instructions to you? Will you begin going to a Christ-centered church that teaches what the Bible says…every week?
You know, we decorated the entire Christmas tree and living room, but we left the glowing angel who pointed out Jesus’ birth until last. I think we’ll have to put her on first next year. You see, decorating the top of the tree was difficult because there wasn’t much light up there when we started without the angel. I guess that’s kind of how it is living life without the Light of Jesus Christ. It’s dark. It’s hard to see what you’re doing and know where you’re going. So I think next time around we’ll put the Light in its rightful place, first. Will you?