Being present in the moment and recognizing God’s grace is a constant pursuit, especially for someone like me. When life gets busy, my “to-do” list often eclipses quiet contemplation and seeking Christ. But this Christmas, an unexpected knee surgery forced me to slow down, and I found myself face-to-face with God in the most unlikely of places: my living room armchair, bathed in the soft glow of our Christmas tree.

The tree, without its lights, was nothing special. Bare branches and simple ornaments seemed far removed from the usual holiday extravagance. Yet, in my enforced stillness, I found myself drawn to it. I started turning on the lights throughout the day, transforming the once-ordinary tree into a beacon of joy in my limited space.

This seemingly insignificant act became a powerful metaphor for God’s presence in my life. As I sat bathed in the soft glow, I was reminded how He uses ordinary things, like trees, lights, and ornaments, to speak profound truths about Himself and us.

The verdant green of the tree mirrored the strength and resilience I felt within. Like the psalmist who wrote, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord… They will be like a tree planted by the waters… it does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green” (Psalm 1:3-4), I too found myself flourishing in the midst of my limitations. This tree reminded me that God’s strength is in me even when I feel weak and vulnerable.

The colored lights weren’t just decorative; they were a tangible reminder of Jesus, the “true light that gives light to everyone who comes into the world” (John 1:9). Just as the lights transformed the ordinary tree, Christ’s presence illuminates our lives, dispelling darkness and bringing beauty where there was none.

This wasn’t just a personal revelation. I saw Christ’s light reflected in the kindness of others who are a part of my ongoing recovery:

  • The unwavering support of my wife, a constant source of love and encouragement.
  • The friend who patiently pushed my wheelchair through a bustling concert crowd.
  • The strangers who offered helping hands as I navigated the world on crutches.
  • The attentive physical therapist who is guiding me back to strength.
  • The numerous check-ins and well-wishes from friends and family.

All these acts of compassion, big and small, are testaments to Christ’s light shining through them, illuminating my path with warmth and grace.

Finally, even the ornaments adorning the tree held deeper meaning. Like the gold-covered table of showbread, lampstand, and decorative gourds and flowers in Solomon’s temple told God’s story (1 Kings 6), these ornaments told a story about personal chapters in our family’s story. They were more than just decorations; they were tangible expressions of life, love, and shared experiences.

This Christmas, sitting in my armchair, our simple tree stands as a powerful reminder:

  • To thrive as a verdant green tree, rooted in faith and trust.
  • To be a light in the world, reflecting the beauty of Christ’s presence.
  • To carry the stories of our lives with love and joy, like ornaments adorning the branches of our souls.

Perhaps, this holiday season, you too will find God’s grace in unexpected places. Look around, slow down, and let the light of Christ shine through.         

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