This Isn’t Real

I never thought I’d do it; I’ve resisted for years.

John has strongly hinted for quite some time that he wanted to make the change, but I’ve been adamant.

Until this year.

We finally succumbed to buying a fake Christmas tree.

Granted, I romanticize the wonder of buying a real tree. When we lived in Wisconsin, we’d drive out in the country to a tree farm and wander up and down aisles of Spruce, Firs, and Balsam trees, evaluating shape, size, and color. There was usually snow on the ground, a definite bite in the air, and the atmosphere of a postcard holiday outing. 

I’d look for the biggest, fullest tree with enough heft to hold our ornaments and all the popcorn and cranberry chains my kids would fashion.

That changed dramatically when we moved to Florida. No wintery outings, no slogging through snow. We walked the aisles of Home Depot or Lowes looking at their trees. I longed for the smell of pine and the tradition of a real tree I’d had since a child. I’d encourage the salespeople to pull out tree after tree, to cut the strings, shake it down, and I’d ponder.

I can’t tell you the number of times I finally settled on the first tree I saw. We’d all be there–our kids and eventually their kids. They all allowed me the final say, mostly because nobody cared about it as much as I did.

Last Christmas we came to the realization that the cost of real trees was too much. Especially if you wanted a tall one–ours HAD to be ten feet tall. After the holidays, we bought our first artificial tree.

I was dreading opening it up. It hadn’t been opened since we bought it, so I feared a scraggly, misshapen excuse for a tree.

It was beautiful. Tall and shapely, it was not missing any branches, nor did it have a hole that needed to be turned toward the wall. We don’t have to water it. It’s not losing needles. And I can leave the lights on as long as I like.

It looks great because it’s not real.

Appearance over substance. It should be a no-brainer to choose what is real, but in our current culture, the preferred appearance is valued more than the truth.

How much of that has to do with the critical spirit that pervades our society? Being our true selves is a risk. Rejection is a real possibility.

Jesus confronted that same challenge when who He was wasn’t what the religious leaders had sought. They wanted a Savior who would free them from the restrictions of Roman rule.

Jesus wasn’t like that. He didn’t come to free us temporarily from discomfort but eternally with the promise of heaven. He told those who chose to believe He was the Messiah:

“You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Others might look good or promise the impossible without the ability to deliver true hope. Jesus alone promises true freedom and life.

Like my tree, if it looks too good to be real, it may be phony.

Trust what is true and reliable. Jesus.

That’s real freedom.

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