Get ready... this post is a little deeper than usual. And don't worry there will be pictures at the end since I know most of you only read this blog to see new pics of the boys!
This year was different when we chose our Christmas tree. Jack can tell you that getting a tree with me can be quite an adventure. I am very picky and we usually don't end up getting a tree until I have looked at at least 10 or so. But this year, because Caleb is older and understands what is going on, he was very much a part of our tree choosing mission. And because he is 2 1/2 and has the attention of a 2 1/2 year old, we didn't look at 10 trees. We didn't even look at 5. In fact, the third tree we looked at was the one Caleb liked and so it was the one we bought.
We got the tree home and put the boys down for their naps. While they were napping, Jack got it all trimmed up and into the tree stand and into the house. And as Jack was getting it placed into the corner of our living room, I thought to myself, "This is the ugliest tree we have ever gotten." And after a few minutes, Jack saw the look on my face and I said my thoughts outloud. So, my sweet husband said, "Maybe this just isn't the front." Then he laid down under the tree and slowly rotated it while I looked on trying to see if there was a better side. And as he turned, well, it only got worse! I really am not kidding- this was one ugly tree. It had lots of weird branches that bent and curved and stuck out all over. And we realized the trunk was crooked so the top wasn't centered which gave it the appearance of leaning. But oh well, it was the tree we bought. So we rotated it to what was the lesser of all bad sides, Jack strung the lights and I put on the bow and ribbons and we waited for the boys to wake up.
When the boys woke up, Caleb was so excited and we all worked together to hang the ornaments (or as Caleb kept calling them, "instruments") on the tree. Caleb literally hung all of his on the same branch and when he turned around to get another one, Jack moved the one he just hung to another spot. It was quite funny, because Caleb didn't even realize Jack was moving his ornaments until about 10 ornaments in he caught him doing it! We had a wonderful time together decorating our hideous tree.
And then last night, I was sitting in the living room after we put the boys to bed, looking at our tree and I thought, "I think this might be the prettiest tree we've ever had." I know I sound crazy, but it really does look great. Somehow, putting lights and ribbon and ornaments on this weird looking Christmas tree made it beautiful.
And as I pondered these thoughts, I realized that this is exactly what God does to us. Nothing about that Christmas tree changed- we didn't go get a new one and we didn't work real hard to fix it- all we did was dress it up and instantly it was changed into a beautiful tree. And we are all pretty ugly in our sin. We can try to clean it up- like trying to find a better side of the tree- but we are truly ugly all over. There is nothing we can do to be beautiful in the sight of God. But then, God did something amazing. He sent His Son to be our ransom. Christ died in our place for our sins. And when we come to realize that and accept this amazing gift, something miraculous happens. Instantly, we go from ugly to beautiful in the sight of God. And it isn't because we get traded in, or because we worked so hard to fix ourselves, it is because God dresses us up in the Righteousness of Christ. We are clothed in His Righteousness and able to be in God's presence. Isn't that amazing? Because of what Jesus did on the cross, God has proclaimed us beautiful and righteous in His sight. These ugly trees are clothed in His beautiful decoration and instantly transformed.
And then I thought about what's been going on in our lives lately. I have been going through a great trial of late and it has not been easy. I won't go into all the details because that is not necessary. But what I realized last night, thinking about the lesson of my Christmas tree, is that God doesn't just dress us up in Christ's Righteousness and leave it at that. He works continually in our lives so that we become in practice what He has already proclaimed us to be. You see, underneath all the decorations, our tree is still pretty ugly. We've been able to cover that ugliness and proclaim our tree as beautiful, but nothing about the tree has actually changed. But when God clothes us, and transforms us, and calls us righteous, he doesn't just leave us there. He uses the good times and even more so, the trials, to teach us, and mold us and change us so that we become more and more beautiful, more and more righteous. And so I can be joyful in the midst of these trials- because God took an ugly tree like me and he called me beautiful because of Christ and because He is using this trial to make me as beautiful in reality as He already has proclaimed me to be.
And now the promised pictures: