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Christmas Tree Therapy

Christmas Tree Therapy December 7, 2021
By God’s good grace to me, I don’t have to do much decorating for Christmas. I love the decorations and the lights. I hate putting it all up. My loving heavenly Father gave me a son who is passionate about Christmas lights and actually enjoys the installment process. And he’s good at it. Thank you, Luke; and praise be to God’s glorious name. Add to this the beautiful reality that my wife now allows me to own and put up a pre-lit Christmas tree. Our first years of marriage included live tree purchases. After several seasons of seeing me stress out again and again and again trying to string lights AFTER sawing off the bottom of the tree to get it the perfect height – she had had enough. Now, at age 44 I get to sit back and watch it all unfold. Hallelujah. God is too good to me.
My primary job this year (aside from helping retrieve boxes out of the attic) was to set the pre-lit tree on its stand. Super easy. To my great delight, I plugged it in and, boom – let there be light. Again, hallelujah. The task requiring the majority of my time with the annual Christmas decorating this year was “fluffing” this pre-lit tree. This wonderful and well-worth-the-money tree had been folded, crammed, and boxed for eleven months. When I set it in its stand, it was contorted to the shape of the box. For a half hour or so, I went round and round the tree “opening” it up. I pulled the fake limbs down. I maneuvered the fake tree needles to extend. I bent other limbs to fill in dead spaces. I felt like I was hurting this tree. It was cramped and stiff and cold. It was like it wanted to stay “as is” because that was what was comfortable and normal. Were it able to talk, I believe it would have told me to leave it alone. I had to open it up (“fluff” the tree), however, so it could receive. I had to take time to let the limbs and needles be exposed so they could be decorated with ornaments. While adjusting branches and limbs, I was preparing it to look beautiful. If I had never opened it up and bent branches to fill out the tree, it would have remained shriveled, cold, and almost impossible to adorn.
That half hour of “fluffing” took me to therapy. As embarrassed as I am to admit it, yours truly is precisely like that tree. When it comes to dark and sinful areas, I like to stay closed off. I like to remain contorted to my “area.” You can look at the box. You can even look at the shriveled tree on the stand. But don’t start opening me up. Don’t start stretching out branches. Don’t start exposing things I want to keep hidden. Don’t notice the bare spots. Don’t touch that limb. Please don’t turn on the lights – then I might really be exposed! I would rather be cramped and folded and in the fetal position under the covers. If you think about it, however, when the opening up happens – then and only then – am I ready for what I am created for. When the bending and pulling and arranging and exposing happens, I am ready to display ornaments of grace to the world.
When I stay closed off; when I remain in the box; when I refuse to let anyone in; when I don’t want the lights turned on – I remain cold, folded, and unable to receive. When I want things to remain as they are, I am unable to be graced. I can’t get what someone from outside of myself wants to adorn me with. The author of Proverbs is right: staying spiritually concealed closes you off.
It may seem easier to remain folded in. But staying folded up in a box never allows you and I to receive the grace of Jesus. We will never be in a position to be decorated. We will never be given the opportunity to display His beautiful work. Like a cramped, boxed up, pre-lit Christmas tree – if we don’t allow Someone outside of ourselves to open us up, we will never be able to shine.
What is hidden that needs laying open? What is folded in and covered up that needs to be exposed? Not to the world, necessarily. To God. When was the last time you allowed the gentle, loving, yet powerful Holy Spirit in to those areas? When have you allowed Him to bend the branches, fluff the needles, and position your heart to receive His grace-drenched care? You and I will never know the depth of His grace and love if we don’t let Him do His work.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go sit and admire my son’s hard work.

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