We always have a memorable Christmas tree, whether it’s an unconventional species (Russian olive, plum, or a box elder branch) or the experience of obtaining it- lengthy hunting stories involving mechanical malfunctions in cold and snowy mountain passes.
This year’s tree hunt was different: my husband walked into the back yard and sawed down a tree we’d planted 20 years ago. The nine-foot Scotch pine was wedged between a chokecherry and another evergreen, reaching long limbs in search of the sun. Sacrificing the starving tree for no better purpose than to provide more room for its neighbors seemed wrong, so it became the 2013 “Caywood Family Christmas Tree.”
This tree would never have “made the cut” (pardon the pun) for a Christmas tree lot. It lacks the shape and splendor of what is considered standard. The circumstances of its life were hampered, through no fault of its own. This tree, given better opportunities as a sapling (space, sun), may have grown into a lovely specimen of evergreen glory. But this was not to be its purpose.
When I feel remorse at the cutting of this tree for temporary use in our home, I remember the tree lots I saw on Christmas Eve, still lined with symmetrical conifers which will not grace a living room, while our lanky, “Charlie Brown tree” is draped in colored spheres of LED “luminescence” and ornaments representing holiday memories of years long past. Though it lacked the qualifications, “the stone that the builder refused…”
Like the tree, we’re not all given optimal circumstances in early life, but that doesn’t mean we’re doomed to remain in those situations. The Lord can provide a purpose that can lead anyone out of anything. Sometimes it’s a purpose we’ve known since the beginning, and sometimes we don’t see the purpose until we’re on our way to fulfilling it.
The tree is just a tree; it was not given a Divine purpose for standing in our living room this Christmas. But in pondering its apparent “lot” (again, pardon the pun) in life and transcendence to part of our future Christmas memories -“Remember when Dad cut the Christmas tree from our back yard?” -I can apply the idea to our lives as people. We may be born into a world that hinders us, but we aren’t destined to stay there.