Time for a more Christmasy post of sorts. I was just thinking about an experience in early November that describes well where I am at with my faith and thinking. Faith to us is an action word. It's not just believing, it's acting on that belief, even in the face of difficulty.
My mom has been in the process of moving to Texas where my dad has been working for quite some time. I am so happy for them to be together as they should be. Part of the move preparation has been clearing out the house and putting it on the market. One of the things I was able to inherit was her beautiful Christmas tree. She has had it ready for quite some time for us, but we just hadn't gotten around to going to pick it up. Finally one day Amily went out to get it. She had driven the truck to school and the deal was that she had to wait around for Kyra to finish with play rehearsal and bring her home. With free time on her hands, Amily decided to go visit grandma out in Paradise. While she was there, they loaded up the Christmas tree. It's a very solid, heavy tree that comes in the typical 3 pieces.
All loaded up, Amily headed back to the high school to pick up Kyra and head home. Once home, she backed into the garage to unload the tree. Out came the base, the center section, and the...the top of the tree...well, it wasn't exactly there. In fact it was plain MIA. The phone calls started and my mom was out looking for the tree top along the road to see where it had blown out.
Now let me back up a bit. This same time, we had been getting bad news after bad news. I still wasn't feeling that great, so that seemed to overshadow everything. We then were getting the reality of health insurance and doctor bills mounting above and beyond what we had anticipated. To top that off, Jared found out that his job (and ultimately our health insurance)were not so secure. He could lose his job just as the holidays were beginning. The kids were getting sick and hurt every time we turned around it seemed. With each bad event that came to light, I was beginning to feel like Job. I hadn't lost my family and friends, but otherwise I was dumbfounded as to the challenges mounting.
I was anxious to get the tree, the tree would fill a need. Our previous artificial tree had all but died the year before and we had gotten rid of it with the hope that we would pick one up with an after Christmas sale. We never found one that we liked and figured we would just have to buy one when Christmas came around again. Well, here we were, looking at Christmas upon us and definitely not feeling like we had the money to spend on a brand new tree with the bills growing as they were. When mom offered us her tree, I was ecstatic. We would have a tree!
I had just come home from the cancer center for my weekly treatment when I found Amily with the truck backed into the garage. I was excited to see that the tree was home, and quickly found out that only 2/3 of the tree had made it. I couldn't believe it. The top of the tree was gone!! How? Why? I just had to sit back and laugh. It was all I could do. I said a little prayer at that point trying to gain some understanding as to what was going on. Really, on top of all the other issues we were going through, something this simple had to go wrong too?? I wasn't about to "curse God and die" as Job was being told to do. Not over and artificial tree, not with the bigger issues that hadn't driven me to do so. If I hadn't yet, I wasn't starting now. So why this trial too?
Mom didn't find the top in her searches. We had other things going on and weren't able to go looking ourselves right away. Before we were able to, a snow storm hit. There was no point in going to look until it started to melt.
A few days later, Jared, Tia and I decided to go for a ride and find the top. I prayed before we left, shared my feelings, asked to be led to where it was, and off we went to find it. All the way out to Paradise we looked....nothing...not a hint of pine along the road or in the ditches. Jared turned around and headed back towards home. Tia and I kept looking. At about the same moment we both though we saw something. The road to Paradise doesn't have a shoulder and not much of a safe opportunity to turn around. Jared drove on to the High School and did a u-turn to go back and look again. As he was turning near the school, my eyes landed on...no it couldn't be...pine boughs. I pointed to the end of the high school parking lot to a small pile of snow, debris, and small pine boughs.
We drove into the parking lot and I jumped out, gingerly with sore hips, and pulled the tree top out of the snow. It was the same type of pine as our 2/3 of a tree at home. We found our top! I asked in prayer with real intention of finding the missing part. I had full faith that we would be lead and acted on that faith. And there it was!
Once home, the top was a perfect fit. Our tree was whole. But more importantly, my faith was whole. I don't know why all this had to happen. But I do know that all trials and problems come to an end eventually. When the event comes to an end, what we are left with are the consequences of the choices we've made. If we "curse God and die", we are left to pay the consequences. If we hold faithful and endure in righteousness, we are left with stronger character, understanding, and faith. We are better prepared to face future challenges and bring about much righteousness.
The tree is up and decorated, filling our home with the Spirit of Christmas. I can sit back and enjoy knowing that there is a story of faith in this tree. For years to come, this tree will not only be a symbol of eternal life through Jesus Christ, but also enduring in righteousness and acting in faith. It all brings a very Merry Christmas.