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The Christmas Gnome

Anyone else sure there is a Christmas gnome that comes at night and redecorates your tree?

This morning as I plugged in the lights to my Christmas tree, I couldn't help but feel that giddy childhood rush of excitement! All though early, and time for my workout, the anticipation of exercising next to the glow of the tree as a companion seemed to make it a bit easier.

That is until I started to notice something. Inconsistencies on my tree I was sure weren't there the day before. A Christmas ornament that should have gone here, a hole in the tree there. The more I looked at the tree, the more my smile faded into a frown of frustration that the tree just didn't look quite like I had wanted it too. What started out as a companion piece now had become my arch enemy sure to dampen my mood for the day.

How simple the tree issue is, but even in a misfit tree, I see how Satan wanted so badly to ruin my day. He will stop at nothing! Like a big bully he loves to drag us into the mud and hold us there, feeling helpless and afraid. And as I felt this shift in my spirit, I realized how often I allow Satan to do this to me in my day to day life. But instead of ornaments that can be easily rearranged, it's people, places and world issues that grab my attention. And all too often, in these unforeseen circumstances, I open the door for Satan to steal my joy.

What starts out as a carefree adventure, relationship, job opportunity or even Sunday morning church, seem all too quickly to lose their shiny appeal. As I peer close, I see her light is brighter than mine and comparison sets in. I realize their glittering snow man sits too close to me, crowding out my chance to sparkle and jealousy becomes my name. I see holes were someone used to be, and my heart aches for the loss. I noticed things moved and rearranged in my life so unlike I would have placed them if I had been in charge, and discontentment overshadows the pretty lights around me. Before I know it, my heart is as cold as Mr. Scrooge. Weary and beaten by the world I no longer see the beauty in what once brought me so much happiness.

Too often we don't allow God the credit he deserves. Too quick to assume he has forgotten about when we find ourselves placed at the back of the tree. Not prominent like the star, we push and manipulate our way to the top only to find we are just as lonely and miserable there. We neglect to admit he is still in control as he writes our story, and no amount of shine from another can steal from us what God wants to do in us and through us. No hole in our story does he not want to heal and make right. No mixed-up confusing parts does he not want to make straight and clear. It's us that do not ask for help and direction. It's us that turn our backs thinking we know best.

We get stuck here so often, don't we? And yet I feel as God shows me this simple comparison, he is calling us to a different perspective, his perspective. A gift to see through his eyes. Eyes that reveal he has good intention for why he has placed things just so. And a trust that he is still working it all for our good as each year he dusts us off and remakes our trees. Placing us exactly where he needs us to be to show the world his glory through us at just the right time. He is the Master Creator. He is the King of Kings. And yet he loves us so! Can we trust him to be the God that never makes a mistake and allow him to do the work in our lives he promises, even if it doesn't fit our schedule or plan?

Can we take a second look at those things that have become painful reminders of "just not good enough" and allow God to soften our hearts to see what he might be doing on our behalf in these seasons of hard? Can we open our hearts to finding joy again in difficult places we never thought we would find ourselves? Can we look again with love at our misfit Christmas trees? Can we trust that God has a plan for each of us and will not forget to keep writing for us a story of hope and not defeat as we surrender the pen and control to him? Can we climb out of the mud and fight against our enemy using the weapons of truth and promises that in our God we are always victorious, even in what looks like defeating circumstances?

Today, let's take a second look at things we have brushed aside that once brought us so much happiness. Let's cast off the sadness and shame and, once again, ask God to renew in us a love and excitement where they once flourished. Let's put on that childlike faith and anticipation for all that is still to come. Let's entrust our stories back to his loving hands. Let's sparkle right where we are! Shine bright my friend, because you are shining for Jesus!

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