Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tangled up

As many people do, we begin decorating for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving. In my family, the tree was always up and decorated on Thanksgiving day. It was tradition to eat Thanksgiving dinner and then break out the decorations.

When I was a kid, all of our decorations were kept in a huge cardboard box. I think the box was at least twenty years old back then. The old box was composed more of duct tape instead of cardboard, but it served its purpose.

As I began to put up the tree in our house the other day, I was really looking forward to plugging it in to see the beautiful lights. You see, about five years ago, we bought a pre-lit tree. I think my wife was tired of hearing me complain about getting the Christmas tree up and lit each year. Sure enough, the pre-lit tree worked just fine. I was much more pleasant when putting the tree up, and we have thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas tree each year since then.

On Friday, I dug our Christmas tree out of the attic, found the stand, and brought it downstairs where I ceremoniously placed it by the fireplace. I then plugged the green cord into the outlet and pushed the floor switch. Nothing happened. I began to check connections, fuses and bulbs. Nothing worked. It seems the problem with the pre-lit tree, is that the lights eventually stop working.

I decided to take off the old lights that were not working and replace them with new strands. That idea seemed simple enough. I thought I’d be finished in no time. I started with the bottom branches, but found out very quickly how difficult this job would be. These commercially wrapped lights were impossible to unwind. I finally had to get wire cutters to free our tree from this electric version of kudzu.

I spent most of the day Friday afternoon, and all of Saturday morning cutting wires from fake tree limbs. Finally, Sunday I began stringing lights on the tree, only to discover that I didn’t have enough lights, so once again the project was put on hold. The Christmas tree that I thought would take one afternoon to decorate has taken four days. I am happy to report, however, that at the time of this writing, the tree is up and beautiful.

All of this made me think about how we must seem to God sometimes. We are like tangled up Christmas lights that have stopped working. God patiently, light-by-light, checks to see which parts of our lives are blown and then repairs them. He then lovingly replaces the fuses that keep the electrical current flowing, with the Holy Spirit. When all of the maintenance is finished, He places us out into the world to shine for Him.

As you journey through this busy time of year, you may feel all tangled up and unable to glow. Slow down. Give the King whose birth we are celebrating a chance to make you beautiful again.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again… Galatians 5:1

Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.
Daniel 12:3

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