If God Had a Christmas Tree

B.J. Funk

B.J. Funk

By B.J. Funk –

Have you ever been in a situation where your life’s busyness collided with your priorities? When this happens the important is snuffed out, allowing the unimportant to move into first place? Something happens that brings you to the truth you were too busy to see.  That happened to me one crisp December day at school.

I was a kindergarten teacher before God called me to preach. One Christmas, as the children and I were packing up their Christmas art, one 5-year-old girl’s sweet request opened my eyes to truth, helping me focus on what is really important at Christmas.

My desk was stacked high, overflowing with their Santas and elves. The children were gathered around my feet watching a Christmas video while I raced the clock to put all of their Christmas work into paper grocery sacks. Soon, the final bell would ring and the students would rush home for two weeks of vacation.

My excellent paraprofessional took down items hanging from our indoor clothesline, then removed every little paper bell and star on our tree. When the children came back to school, it would be January, so nothing of Christmas could be left during the holidays.

My eyes darted around the room at all the activity, but they shifted to Abby just as she looked up at me. Softly she asked, “Know what I want under my tree this Christmas?”

I glanced back at the bulletin board, then at the windows to see if the holly wreaths had been removed. Then, I answered.

“What,” I said, pulling tape off of the back of a picture, “what do you want under your tree this Christmas?”

My eyes caught sight of the hanging stars of Bethlehem. Oh goodness, they were still up. I was about to get up and step on a table to remove the stars when Abby’s answer stung me like a bee, her words echoing as if they had been inside two cymbals clanging sharply in my ears.

“You,” she said. “I want you under my tree this year.”

My world stopped. I saw nothing of glittering angels or cotton beards on Santa Clause faces.  I only saw Abby’s heart. I heard no joyful laughter from the other children watching the funny Christmas cartoon on television. I only heard Abby’s voice. I reached out to her, folding her in my arms and gathering her close.

“You want me, Abby? You want me under your tree?”

It was the nicest complement I have ever received.  A small child wanted her frazzled, hurried, busy teacher under her tree! I have never gotten over what Abby said. It haunts me on my worst days and challenges me on my good ones. Later, as I reflected on Abby’s request, I considered what God might want under his tree, if indeed he had one. “What do you want under your tree this Christmas?” I would ask him.

Every Christmas, his answer would be the same. “I want you, B.J. I want you under my tree.”

I wonder: Can I chop off enough pride to become small enough to be a gift under his tree?  Can I pinch off enough of my ego to be able to fit there? Is it possible to shave off gray shadows of past hurts, irreconcilable conflicts, and worn-out grudges to be under his tree? Can I become an invisible nothing, transparent and vulnerable, and able to survive the challenges of dying to broken dreams, heartaches, and unmet goals? Will God want me as a gift under his tree if I stand full of myself, having to always be right, unable to admit my own errors of judgment, my struggles with sin, my own indulgent nature?

Shave me down, Lord. Chop off, pinch off, correct and teach because I am redeemed, justified and bought with your Son’s blood. Even if I don’t quite fit, even if I don’t deserve it, keep me there, under your Christmas tree, as the gift I want to be for you.

Abby still reminds me that the best gift is a loving relationship. I want to be your best gift, God. Save a spot for me under your tree. I choose to be a gift to you this Christmas.

Comments

  1. Dear BJ,

    I wanted to thank you for this article and also for the many articles that you have written in the past. I have used some of them to encourage members of my Grief Group and will use this one with my Young Women’s Group. Keep up the good work and know that you are touching people’s hearts in Missouri!

    Blessings,
    Tere

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