O Christmas Tree

If you decorate with a live Christmas tree, when do you typically throw yours out?  Usually we wait until well after the new year, but this year will be a little different... Since the early days of our marriage, we have always had a real Christmas tree.  Well, aside from that year when we lived in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains and our van got stuck in the mud at the Christmas farm and we gave up...but aside from that, we're "real, not artificial" Christmas tree people.

Because we've had close to 25 years of experience with actual conifers, you might think that we've seen it all.  But this year was different.  This year we had the most beautiful, fat, green, aromatic tree of them all.  We loved this tree.  We admired this tree.  In fact, I'll even show you a picture of this tree: tree

The shape--just glorious!  But, alas, this post is not to brag on my perfect Christmas tree.  Because, in fact, it was anything but...

For that tree, when touched, was brittle and dying.

gift with needles

These photos were taken at that stage where the tree could still pass for beautiful, and even THE perfect tree, but it hadn't taken water for three days and a slight touch revealed the truth about it.

While I observed my Christmas tree this past month, I couldn't help but make some spiritual observations about this whole thing.  How many times do we look perfect to others...but are dying inside?

We put on the make-up, we wear the trendy or beautiful clothes, we smile big and play the part...but we're struggling inside.  Maybe some women reading this don't have hope or peace.  Maybe others know the Lord but are fighting a battle they don't think they can share with anyone else.  Perhaps we've just been trained to "look perfect" as this surely indicates a great spirituality.

But, ladies...learn from The Tree.  We might all be able to fake it for a time, but eventually the truth will be revealed.  If your heart is empty and you are living apart from the Lord Jesus, this will be known.  If you're losing the battle against sin, it will wear on you and the perfect mask will crack.

And, frankly, our spirituality is Christ's perfection...not our own.  In fact, it had to be Christ's perfection because God knew we could never be perfect and He provided His one and only Son to take our place.

So many of us know this and yet we still try to keep up that perfect facade.  But, the facade is short-lived.  The truth will eventually be revealed. dead tree

Apart from Christ...

apart from the love and care of the Body...

we become empty shells.  Even if we maintain our beauty well into our old age, this dead tree is a picture of our hearts if they are never made alive through the Holy Spirit.

As we enter a new year, remember that God's mercies are fresh.  In fact, every new morning He pours His fresh mercies upon us!  Surrender to Him.  He is good and His love endures forever.  If you look all good on the outside, but your heart is ugly and dead, now is the time to repent and follow the Lord!

If you know Him, but you struggle with feeling like you need to look or be perfect...or you are struggling with sin all alone...understand, really understand, that only Christ is perfect and the Body is a beautiful provision from God to help you and care for you.  Consider someone in your church whom you can trust with your struggles.  Fight your sin valiantly.  Get help now.  Throw out that "old tree" (Ephesians 4: 17-24; Colossians 3: 9-10) and trust God to build a new one, a perfect one, through His Son, Jesus.

One of my favorite scripture passages may be just the one you could meditate on as we enter 2016.  I pray that this is a picture of my life and that the 'clean water' from the Lord would nourish and grow me more and more in holiness this year and always.

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.  Ezekiel 36: 25-27

Happy New Year!  Love, Wendy