Philippians 4:11-13 – I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (NIV)
One advantage of country living is being able to choose and cut your own fresh Christmas tree. That Christmas of 1959, brother Lorne and I had been commissioned to "get the tree." Dutifully, we set out for the bush on Christmas Eve in the late afternoon. In those days, school was on right up till the 24th.
"This one looks pretty good," I called to Lorne. His inspection and assessment convinced me that it was much too puny and spindly, and he feared that its sparse look might be reflected in the number of presents to appear under it.
"I've found it over here," Lorne yelled. I followed his voice to find myself at the base of a thirty-foot giant balsam.
"Do you think it will fit in the house?" I asked tenuously.
"Oh, that's simple," Lorne reasoned. "We just use the good part off the top. It's perfect!"
By that time, he was halfway up the tree, sawing! The "good part" fell to the ground with a gentle thud, leaving a huge needle-covered dent in the snow. On Lorne's advice, I grabbed the light top end, and he manned the base. We should have caught on by the distance between us that we may have overdone it a bit. However, in the quickly fading light of solstice evening, we marched bravely homeward with the prize.
Nearing the house, a funny thing happened. Not only did the house seem to shrink, but also the tree appeared to be getting bigger. When we laid it out near the door, Mother came out, unsuccessfully trying to hide her surprise, because, when we raised it up to its perpendicular state, it reached almost to the roof, and it was a two-storey house!
The only thing to do was to take the good part off the top again and use that for our Christmas tree. It was a perfect specimen, in our eyes at least, but I see it now as a lesson for "Keeping Things In Perspective." How often we try to do everything all at once and end up accomplishing very little. We so often proverbially "bite off more than we can chew." Let's tackle things in bite-sized pieces that we can handle, and always remember that "the will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you."
Prayer: Lord God, help us to learn to wait upon you, day by day, moment by moment, so that we may not run ahead and "bite off more than we can chew," but walk quietly and confidently according to Your will. Help us to remember to listen and obey, so that all that we say and do counts for the utmost for your Kingdom. Teach us to understand and embrace more deeply your marvellous gift of grace, and how it relates to every situation we encounter. Amen.