A few days after the family Christmas tree had been put up, I found myself inspecting the tree for gaps and spaces. As do many families, my wife sits on the floor and hands the ornaments to our children for hanging. My role has always been to come along later and balance out the kids’ handiwork. I have never figured out how they manage to put three ornaments on one branch and leave huge holes and gaps in other places, but they do.
So, I moved different ornaments into position and made adjustments to the tree until I felt it was as perfect as it could be. As I moved along to the backside, which is always the most troubling side, I noticed something. The front side of the tree held all of our beautiful ornaments purchased from various places and for various reasons, while the backside was covered with the handmade ornaments collected from years of school and church projects.
To be honest, most of them were not the most attractive. The torn paper wreath, the frayed construction paper Christmas tree, and so on. But what struck me so forcibly that morning was that every one of those ornaments held within them a picture or the writing of my children wishing our family, and more specifically my wife and I, a Merry Christmas. I pulled the tree away from the wall and was struck by this mural that stood before me of 21 years of our family hanging from the limbs of this tree.
As my fingers gently lifted and inspected those ornaments, I was struck by the thought that I was holding treasures. Not the treasure of riches and wealth, but the treasure of a rich life. Each fragile picture weathered by time and each paper construction tattered by use shouted to the heavens a truth I was so humbly embracing that moment. I had lived and was a part of this mad human race, and someone thought I was important enough to offer the great wish of a Merry Christmas.
How often do we struggle for significance in this life? Judging our value on money earned, position gained, and power acquired that in the end means so little. The Bible tells us where our heart is, that is where our treasure will be found. These struggles for the temporary treasures of our modern culture can be ripped away so quickly, and have stolen the true value of living that is found in the lives we impact, not the things we gather.
I am humbled today not by achievements, and there have been some. I am not moved by what has been gained, and thanks to God there has been more than I deserve. Today I am humbled by the thought that I would be missed if not here. There wouldn’t be a national day of mourning or people weeping in the streets, but the faces on the back of my Christmas tree would wish I could come back and move the ornaments around one more time.
We end another year, and for many it has been a hard one. Our dreams are different, our hopes simplified, but may I offer this thought. Maybe the purpose behind all of this has been to refocus us on significance. It is not too late. You may feel like a failure today because of what you lost, but look up. Could it be God’s way of leading you to what will last long after your things are gone? A life of impact. A life that has heartfelt Merry Christmas’s hanging on the backside of your Christmas tree. Merry Christmas my friends from my heart to yours!