The pre-lit Christmas tree promises “lights that stay lit, even if one goes out.” It doesn’t tell the truth. We’re all familiar with stressful holiday preparations. Everyone knows that a dose of irritation is included, for free, in every box of Christmas tree lights!
A few years ago, our family purchased a pre-lit, artificial tree with tightly wound lights. No longer would we have to face the hassle and anguish of stringing up lights. This tree would offer quick, instant set-up, and instant sparkle. But nothing man-made lasts forever. When Christmas came, we were disappointed to find multiple lights burned out on multiple strings.
We spent several days dealing with our problem. We talked about replacing the lights, but it was impossible to find out which ones were attached to others. Our family looked for a new tree, but didn’t like the ones we found. They were either too tall, or too skinny. Almost all of them came… pre-lit. We finally found one for a great price, without lights. Yet, it didn’t seem to make sense to buy such a similar tree, when the money could be used to buy one for somebody else.
We went back home without a tree. My husband now had a migraine. This meant my teen boys and I needed to figure out what to do. Otherwise, December would be gone. One of them suggested we just cut the lights off of the tree, and put up new ones. I resisted. Couldn’t we just replace individual strings? No. It wasn’t possible. The strings were tangled, and lights were everywhere. After we unplugged the lights from the outlet, my son began cutting the crazy maze. I was wound as tightly as the light strings. We hadn’t we started this a week ago?
Twin teenagers were doubly helpful. It took two days to remove all the light strings! Finally, we were ready to add new lights. As I began to string the bottom of the tree, I realized we didn’t have enough lights to finish! The next day, my husband was still recovering from his migraine. Yet, he headed to the store with one of the boys to get more lights, and do some important errands. During this time, I had developed severe bronchitis, and didn’t feel like doing much of anything. This was truly a holiday headache!
Discouragement breathed heavy lies into my ear. New boxes were brought home. “Surprise!” The lights inside were twinkling lights. The boxes had looked similar. How could I judge my husband, when I’d purchased garland lights only a few days prior, which didn’t match either! Ornaments were strewn everywhere. They were also disappearing… because ornaments and toys look the same to a six-year old.
Every year, I expect the rush, and try to plan early. Each year, I fail. But new trials had been difficult, and God doesn’t see me as a failure! I began to look at the big picture. In spite of holiday stress and annoyances, my family was together. We irritated each other and argued, but we were together. My family pitched in on that last night, and decorated the tree… together. Tree decorating isn’t my family’s favorite tradition, because it’s a lot of work. But we do love the beauty, memories, and excitement of Christmas. It wasn’t about the tree. My family had cooperated, and brought me happiness, simply because of their love for me.
Our family knows to pull together, even in the small things, because God has pulled us through the bigger trials. He answers our prayers, providing us with everything we need. He draws us closer to Him, sharing wisdom about the world around us. It’s comforting to know God can make good out of everything, bringing healing and bringing us freedom in the process. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28 New International Version).
Old lights, which have burned out, are useless for brightening a room. To be able to see clearly, we need new lights. When we leave our old selves behind, we become born again, brand new in Jesus. We can choose to take a step of faith, believing Jesus was born to die for our sins, and that God miraculously resurrected his body from the dead. Pray to God, and ask Jesus to come into your heart. Admit you are a sinner, and ask God to forgive your sins in the name of Jesus. Go in peace, knowing you will spend eternal life in Heaven with Jesus. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The light of Jesus shines through those of us who belong to him. When we let our lights shine, we become hope for those living in darkness. We all have light to offer, if Jesus lives within us. We can encourage others to shine, by seeking God, and sharing what Jesus has done for us in our own lives. As brothers and sisters in Christ, our lights will shine even brighter as we come together. Others will be drawn to the light, because God is light.
A string of lights, with a burned out bulb, needs a replacement. A lost person, living in darkness, needs brand new life, and light, in Jesus. If a light has grown dim, we need to minister to that brother or sister in Christ. We must endeavor to encourage the brokenhearted and hurting, and help those who have lost their way because of pain. An uncooperative light string needs tending. So do stubborn people. They need love, wise counsel, and healing in Christ. Those who receive salvation will always remain plugged in to Jesus, our eternal light source.
God is an everlasting light. His light never goes out, because He is light! “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. ” (1 Jn. 1:5-10).
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ ” (John 8:12).