November 23, 2009
Revealing Your Source
Psalm 23:1 "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want" (NIV).
Friend To Friend
Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. One of my favorite family traditions is the buying of our Christmas tree. This tradition has changed and evolved over the years as our children have grown and married and now have children of their own, but one of my favorite Christmas memories is the buying of the Christmas tree. Join me in a little Southerland Christmas reflection.
The tree must be purchased on the day after Thanksgiving and it must be purchased from the nice man who runs a tree lot just down the street from our house because he has the best Frasier Firs in town. The whole process is something to see and steeped in Southerland tradition.
We all pile into "Old Blue", my husband's well-worn truck, and head for the tree lot. When we arrive, my husband and our children fan out in search of "the tree". Yes, I believe that there is one particular tree just waiting for us to claim it. Over the years, many people have tried to change that opinion, but I'm standing firm. As tradition demands, my husband, Dan, immediately begins muttering, "Bah, humbug" under his breath but just loud enough for us all to hear him. That is the cue for our daughter, Danna, to begin rolling her eyes and correcting her Scrooge father. Our son, Jered, ignores them both and carries out his steady search in quiet contemplation. He usually spots "the tree" first. "Found it!" he will shout, which is another verbal tree-finding tradition. We all gather to inspect Jered's find, immediately dismiss it as unworthy, and spread out once again in search of our tree.
The owners of the tree lot now sense the non-negotiable Southerland step-by-step process and stand back, waiting for the curtain to fall on the tree drama, content in the knowledge that we will eventually buy a tree from them. I consider and dismiss almost every tree on the lot before going back to the first tree Jered picked. Afraid of losing "his" tree to another customer, Jered faithfully stands guard until we all come to our senses and realize that he, once again, has found the perfect tree. After what we consider a respectable search time, we once again gather at Jered's tree, looking for "holes" in the branches, evaluating each side to make sure it will display well and finally, examining the top of the tree to make sure our angel tree-topper will be comfortable there.
The moment of truth arrives when Dan, Danna and Jered all look at me and ask the question, "Well, what do you think, mom? Is this the one?" Savoring the moment, I take my time, circling the tree in quiet appraisal. My husband and children know that, at this point, their only job is to remain silent. Finally, I turn to them and say, "Let's get it!" I am almost certain I hear applause at this moment, from my family, from other customers and certainly from the tree man. My husband writes the check as Jered loads the tree in Old Blue and we head home where the Christmas tree stand is ready and waiting. Jered, the hulk football player, unloads the tree, cuts off an inch of the trunk, places it in the stand and transports the tree to its new home for holidays.
The smell is delicious. The needles are green and fresh - for about a month, and then, every year, the same sad process begins. Although I faithfully water the tree, the needles grow more brittle with each day that passes, the smell is less powerful and eventually, the limbs begin to wither, dry out and turn brown. Why? The tree has been separated from its source. The same is true in life.
I am convinced that a great deal of our stress is born in wrong priorities and is fed by inadequate sources. As a result, we are never quite satisfied as we desperately try to squeeze life out of lifeless things. God is our sole provider. Yet, I often find myself afraid to let go, refusing to give back to God what really belongs to Him in the first place. "The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want." When it comes to the resources we need for life, this promise from the 23rd Psalm is staggeringly important to remember.
A famous actor was once the guest of honor at a social gathering where he was asked to recite favorite excerpts from various literary works. An old preacher who happened to be there asked the actor to recite the twenty-third Psalm. The actor agreed on the condition that the preacher would also recite it. The actor's recitation was beautifully intoned with great dramatic emphasis for which he received lengthy applause. The preacher's voice was rough and broken from many years of preaching, and his diction was anything but polished, but when he finished, there was not a dry eye in the room. When someone asked the actor what made the difference, he simply replied, "I know the psalm, but he knows the Shepherd." When we refuse to accept and live out the truth that God is our source, greed ushers jealousy into our lives, fueling it along with selfish ambition and bitter envy. We need to remember that the only cure for greed is to train our heart to reflect the truth that God alone is our provider. He is all we need. My prayer is that He really is all we want.
Father, thank You for the life and power that comes from knowing You. You alone are my Provider and the Source of everything good in my life. You supply every need and fill my life with purpose. In the midst of the holiday rush, please remind me that it really is all about You.
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
What resources have you been counting on for contentment? Have those resources disappointed you? How? What steps do you need to take in order to experience His contentment in your life? Try these:
- Admit that you have been depending on your resources instead of God's.
- Recognize that those resources have not brought contentment to your life.
- Choose to allow the Holy Spirit to create God's resources in you.
- Commit to follow His plan and count on His resources for that plan.
- Thank God for the contentment that will surely flood your life as you turn your heart toward Him.
More From The Girlfriends
Has the reality hit you that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and Christmas is only 29 days away? I know. Take a deep breath and let's make a plan. This year, let's really keep it simple. Focus first on God, then focus more on people and less on things. Spend tomorrow simply giving thanks. Thanksgiving Day is a great day to begin your Joy Journal by keeping a running list of God's blessings in your life.
Stressed about money? Tap into your creative side and give more meaningful and thoughtful gifts this year. Need help? Check out Mary's MP3 download, Giving the Perfect Gift, to discover ten wonderful gifts you can give without spending a dime.
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.