Thursday, December 22, 2011

Focus on the light...

We were hoping for a few referrals this week (ok at least just one) before Christmas.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen.  We had been praying lots and lots and lots, but for some reason God has another plan.  One that is not our own nor one we are in charge of.  Someone on the wonderful group we belong to from our agency posted their daily devotional and I wanted to share it with you.  During this Christmas season take time to look at all of the blessings God has given you. 

" Whatever is true... whatever is lovely... whatever is right... think about such
things..." Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

I've decided that pre-lit Christmas trees are a modern marvel. Three parts of a
tree insert together. Three plugs connect into each other, into the wall and
voila! An instant, gorgeous, perfectly balanced display! Can you hear the angels

Except of course when it doesn't ...light up, that is.

The day after Thanksgiving, we hauled our Christmas treasures down from the
attic; dragged them into the house, box by box. Anticipation ran high as
Christmas carols and cinnamon candles filled the air. Two girls and their single
momma were excited to get our house all Christmas-y.

The tree was first. Bottom section, check. Middle section, check. Tiny pointed
top section — all in place. Plug A into B into C and ... tada! Well, almost.

It was a 'tada!' moment except for three pesky branches that remained dark.
Cords were plugged and re-plugged. Still dark. Branches were jiggled and bulbs
tested. No lights.

The type A' perfectionist in me was completely frustrated, and it felt like my
Christmas cheer was being sucked down a black hole of disappointment. It was a
simple thing, yet in that moment the tree symbolized the many areas of my life
that were dark, filled with disappointment and out of my control.

My then thirteen year old squinted at the tree, tilted her head and forever
changed my perspective with these simple words: "Momma, I know! Don't look at
those branches that are dark. Just look at the branches that are lit."

Hmmm, I thought. Looking at the lit branches only, I was reminded of Paul's
words today in Philippians 4:8, which encourage us to find what is true and
lovely and think on thosethings.

Sure enough, when I concentrated on the twinkling lights, the areas of darkness
seemed to disappear. When focused on the working lights, they were so bright,
the darkened parts didn't matter much.

It was a great Christmas tree lesson, but one I knew Jesus wanted me to apply in
my life too. I have my own dark branches that include widowhood, family health
struggles and financial challenges. But lighting my way are other branches
overflowing with love — His love and the love of my family. I also have friends,
a house to live in, two precious girls to kiss goodnight, flavored coffee,
fluffy pillows. The list goes on and on — if I focus on what I have instead of
what I don't.

This Christmas, let's purpose together to look at the branches that are lit in
our lives instead of thinking on those that aren't.

We will always have things we wish were different. But we also have a choice to
concentrate on what isn't or think about what is. Instead of bemoaning our
life's lack of Hallmark perfection, let's focus on the lit branches: things like
love, sacrifice, time and togetherness.

Instead of heaping more on our to-do list, or trying to achieve an elusive
Christmas ideal, let's choose to see the blessings we do have. And if we squint
our eyes just right and tilt our heads, life looks pretty bright after all.

Dear Lord, thank You for simple illustrations that help us to see Your truth.
You are the light of the world and our hope for the future. Please help me see
the things that 'shine' in my life instead of dwelling on the darkness. In
Jesus' Name, Amen."

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