I can still recall the first Christmas tree my husband and I ever picked out after we were married. There were so many to choose from on the lot. My husband was looking at how straight the trunk was as a good criterion for our selection. He was so smart about that kind of thing!
I, on the other hand, was looking at the kind of needles, their shape, softness, and color. I was looking at the fullness of the tree and imagining it standing in our little one bedroom duplex back at our military base housing.
In the end, my sweet husband yielded to my romantic idea of a tree versus practical realities. The tree appeared lovely, but he pointed out that the one side was not well shaped and the trunk curved in two places, in the middle and at the base that would need to fit in the tree stand.
Clearly, it was not the best tree to choose, but by then I had determined that with all those problems no one would likely choose the tree and I didn’t want it to be left alone on the lot. Certainly we could make it work! Of course, I was counting on him to figure all that out.
The tree was difficult to get into the tree stand and sit in such a way that the curve of the trunk was not so evident. My sweetheart worked with it and we proudly set it up. But we have laughed about that first tree for all the years after that. While we were still using a real tree, I walked across many lots and fields of trees when we cut our own to select the perfect tree. My dear husband and our children would follow me in the cold and snow looking for just the right tree. (Think the Griswold Family Christmas tree from “Christmas Vacation”!)
It’s funny that all those carefully chosen more perfect trees are not what we remember.
Choices come in all shapes and sizes.
Choices are about all kinds of things and people.
I think it can be easy for me to look at someone’s choice of me or his or her lack of choosing me. It gets very personal and pulls me into comparing myself with others and letting their choice somehow determine my value. It is powerful and too often I can be tempted to give someone power that should only be reserved for the Lord.
What about my choices?
My choices say something about me even as yours do about you.
You see, if I turn the mirror around and determine to be brutally honest, I need to consider the criteria I use when making the choices that are mine to make.
My daughter and I love to shop together because we can make short work of a store. We either like things we see or we don’t and if we don’t, there is no need to spend an hour pouring over the racks of clothing the store buyer has selected for choosing. Some choices come easily.
I like some designs more than others and prefer certain colors. I turn away from shoddy workmanship whether it is in furniture or clothing. Clearly, I like excellence (at a good price).
But what about my choice of people?
We each choose people we enjoy and want to spend time with. What criteria do we choose then? How deeply do we look at our choices?
Do we see beyond the outward design and our preferences?
Do I choose the popular, most gifted, and fun person? Or do I look a bit deeper to see the workmanship hidden within the person’s character and the quality of his or her heart and spirit?
The choice of who I spend time with reveals my preferences and my character as well.
Too often my choices and yours reveal how unlike Christ we really are.
The Lord doesn’t choose me, you, or anyone else because of skills, standing in the community or church, or even our gifts.
The Lord doesn’t choose me (or you) because I AM special, but when He chooses me I BECOME special.
Sometimes we can be tempted to try to become somebody (whatever that means) in the hope we will be chosen by some person, some board, or some organization.
Such faulty thinking can cause us to believe that we will then be more useful or worthy or valuable. We can be tempted to think because we have this degree, this position, this title, this reputation, and a long list of other things that we will be able to be used by the Lord.
We get it backwards!
God chooses us not because we are somebody, but because we are a nobody.
That is when He can use us. That is when His power can be perfected and His glory shine more brightly. He did not come as a King. He did not wear royal robes. He came to reveal God, His Father, that everyone was missing.
The Lord chooses us and we become a walking presentation of the gospel in the lives of everyone we touch.
What will our choices say in that presentation?