Do you see what I see?

Today, they are called “Retro” trees, but in the 60s and early 70s, silver aluminum Christmas trees were quite the rave.  Our family had one that was full and bushy, adorned with dark pink shiny glass ornaments.  My grandparents’ aluminum tree was more slender, but filled with royal blue satin ornaments easily seen from outside passersby through the large livingroom picture window.

Many years ago, when our kids were small, times had gotten tough for several months. The 80s “oil boom” had gone “bust” while businesses and families struggled to make ends meet, including us.  Christmas time was soon approaching, and my stomach began to ache knowing that the Christmas tree would not have as much under it that year. 

Then it hit me….the Christmas tree!  We had always purchased live trees in the past and just did not feel like we could afford one that year. My husband remembered putting away boxes of decorations for his grandmother a few years before, including a box containing their old aluminum tree.  I was excited at the thought of a nostalgic Christmas tree and relieved at not having to purchase one.

The moment arrived as my husband placed the old box in the center of the room, and the kids immediately began to pull the branches out of the crumbling paper sheaths. Enthusiasm soon turned to disappointment as we slowly began to erect what we later called “Charlie Brown’s Aluminum Tree.” The branches looked more like foil rods with a shiny wild frazzle clinging desperately to the ends. We were hoping against hope the ornaments would miraculously fill in the huge gaps. 

As we stood gazing at our Charlie Brown tree, tilting our heads first one way, and then another. And though I tried to hide it, gloom began to overtake me. Then, the words of my four-year-old son shook me from my trance, “If you do this, it looks really bushy!”

I turned to find him standing with his head tilting backward and his eyes squinting nearly shut.  So, I tried it.  He was right!  With the help of the overhead track lighting filtering through the eyelashes, the tree appeared to be gloriously full.  It all depended on how you looked at it!

Oh to have the faith of a child who still lacks the jading of mankind regardng material goods.  So simple. So profound. 

I wish I could say it turned out to be the best Christmas ever that year and that Chuck landed a job that exceeded his previous salary, but I cannot. Looking back however, I can say that it is the Christmas I think of most often.  Not because of the emotional pain or the lack of gifts under the tree, but because of the greater lesson that day from the perspective of a child. 

“Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?”(Psalm 10:1, NIV)  I am sure I have posed this question myself a time or two over the years. In fact, after going through trials, we discover that God never hides, but was there all along. He Himself has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV).  

When allowed to go through the dark places, we begin to see light we did not know existed.

Painful times can have a particular objective for us in that they bring us to the end of ourselves enabling us to discover the treasure hidden in the darkness. It is there we find we have the ability to see through spiritual eyes to behold what we had missed all along. 

Father, I thank you for the gift of Your Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life in Christ Jesus.  Lord, when times are tough and we feel frazzled, help us to direct our thoughts and prayers toward You, rather than trying to fill in the huge gaps in our soul with the shiny trinkets that offer only temporary fulfillment. You have promised to supply all our needs according to Your riches in glory. And thank you Lord, for those moments in our lives that reveal a greater message, and for using the words of a small child to snap me out of my self-centered gloom. In Jesus name, Amen.

Have you ever experienced those moments when light shined through your darkness in a way you'll nver forget?  Share it below in the comment section. I'd love to hear it.