Even though the Christmas season ended over a month ago, our Christmas tree is still sitting in our front yard. “Why?,” you ask. Well I blame the garbage pick-up people. Apparently there was some sort of miscommunication between us.
A couple weeks after Christmas had passed, we dragged our Christmas tree to the top of our driveway so that the garbage truck could take it away the next morning. Well when my roommates and I came home the following afternoon, we arrived to a startling surprise. Not only had our tree NOT been picked up, but it had been shoved all the way down the hill of our front yard. It was so far away from the curb that it looked like a deliberate and clear rejection. It was like they were sending us the message, “We want absolutely nothing to do with your tree, and we never want to come near it again.” Needless to say, I’m still a little hurt.
Ever since then, our tree has been sitting in our front yard untouched. No one from the road can see it because it’s so far down the hill, which is probably why we haven’t moved it–we don’t have to worry about the neighbors thinking we’re hillbillies who leave our trash in our yard. But we also haven’t moved it because we don’t really know what else to do with it. The garbage people rejected it, so where else does one turn?
(And p.s., if you know the answer to why our tree was rejected–if there’s some kind of North Carolina Christmas tree disposal law about which I am unaware–please inform me)
Now this tale of Christmas tree woe is not the point of my writing today. But seeing that sad, little Christmas tree in our front yard, which browns and withers with every passing day, reminds me of an important spiritual truth.
At the end of the day, a Christmas tree is little more than a tree that is dying. This reality is obvious now that my tree is dried out and brown, but we don’t think about it at Christmastime when the tree is dressed up with ornaments and lights. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I would just sit in front of our tree and stare at it because it was so beautiful, but no matter how much we dressed up that tree, we couldn’t change the reality that this tree had been cut off from its roots, and was now dying a slow and sure death.
Oftentimes, my life feels just like that beautiful Christmas tree. I have covered myself with all kinds of Christian decorations–I have a seminary degree, I’m a writer, a college minister, a Bible study leader, and a mentor to many young women. But at the end of the day, those achievements are all just decorations. They don’t really mean anything, because they do not sustain the Christian life. If you cut yourself off from the Source, then you can be doing all the activities in the world, but still be withering spiritually. And sometimes I feel like I am.
That said, I want you to ask yourself–are you a Christmas Tree Christian? Do you feel as though you are piling on decoration after decoration, yet neglecting the source of your spiritual life? Are your roots firmly planted in an ever-growing relationship with God, or have you cut your roots off by neglecting time in Scripture and prayer?
Like a dying Christmas tree, spiritual death is not readily apparent. It could take months, even years, before the lack of nourishment becomes observable. And that makes it easy for us to ignore this part of our spiritual lives. But if left unfed long enough, the death will inevitably come. Our branches will become too dried out to hold up those ornaments, so they will break and drop them. And eventually, we will look just like that poor little tree that sits in my front yard.
If you are feeling that strain on your branches, or if you feel as though your roots have been cut off from their source, take some time for yourself and God. At the end of the day, your Christian activities are nothing more than cheap ornaments, treasures on earth to be burned away. God cares little for the things that make us look glorious, but He cares greatly for a heart which glorifies Him.