Late one November, we decided to take the kids to a Christmas tree farm to chop down our own tree. It seemed like a festive idea. What could possibly go wrong? All we had to do was choose our tree, chop it down, load it in the truck, pay the vendor and take it home. A Norman Rockwell moment just waiting to happen. What we didn’t realize, though, was that estimating the size of a tree while standing in the great outdoors is harder than you might think.
And we failed miserably.
The tree we chose for our living room turned out to be enormous. But by the time the lights and ornaments were added, it was one of the most beautiful trees we’d ever had.
Until it came crashing down.
I was the first one on the scene and yelled for my husband to come help. The two of us got the tree upright and soon discovered we had a twofold problem. First, the trunk of the tree was crooked. It zig-zagged all over the place and created a natural tendency to fall. Second, the tree stand we owned was for smaller trees like the ones we’d had in the past. It simply wasn’t large enough to hold the tree in place for any length of time. Those two factors, combined with the weight of lights and ornaments, were a recipe for disaster.
But we didn’t give up. Before the angel was placed on top of the tree for the second time that night, we’d laid 10-pound patio stones against the tree stand. We’d also wrapped a long piece of lumber in Christmas paper and wedged it against the trunk for additional support. By the time the lights and ornaments were added and the tree skirt was placed over the patio stones, the tree was once again one of our most beautiful trees.
No one who drove through our neighborhood oohing and aahing over the Christmas lights knew that our beautifully decorated tree was unable to stand on its own. Unless we told them, no one who visited our home knew that the long skinny present wedged against the tree was not a present at all. No one knew that patio stones were strategically placed and hidden beneath the tree skirt. Unless we told, no one knew how many supports were in place to keep our tree standing.
Can you identify with this story? I certainly can.
Some of us are trees with crooked trunks and, to be honest, we’re barely standing. Hang one more burden on our branches and we’re going to topple over.
Some of us are trees with crooked trunks but we’re standing upright. Why? Because we have pieces of lumber and patio stones that prop us up on one side and steady us on the other. They are the family, friends, Bible teachers, pastors and counselors who keep us from falling every time a slight breeze comes along. They keep us steady.
And some of us are pieces of lumber or patio stones who are called to offer support.
My question for you today is, which one are you?
Are you barely standing? If so, reach out to someone who can steady you during this difficult time of life. Call a friend, a pastor or a counselor. If you can’t think of anyone to call, call a K-LOVE pastor at (800) 525-5683. If you’re a pastor who has been forced to resign your church, reach out to Pastors’ Hope Network at PastorsHopeNetwork.org. You may feel lonely but you are not alone.
Are you standing today because of the people God has put in your life to steady you? Thank Him for providing for your needs in this way.
Are you able to steady other people? If so, ask God to show you who needs your support. Commit to being a piece of lumber that can steady the weak or a patio stone that can counterbalance the burdens of life.
Or are you a combination of the above? To be honest, I’m a combination. God has called me to help steady wounded ministers and their families through the work of Pastors’ Hope Network. And one reason I am able to steady others is that I have friends who steady me. I thank God for blessing me with these friends.
There’s a great example of the art of steadiness in Exodus 17:8-15. The Israelites were in battle against the Amalekites and here’s what happened:
(11) As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. (12) When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
If there were times when Moses needed to be steadied, why should we expect any less of ourselves?