Heavenly and all gracious King, it is Christmastime. As I look around our small apartment, I begin to wonder if a sweet little Christmas tree might bring warmth to our small apartment. Yet, we are living on a tight budget now. Not to mention, since the night You saved me, I have rarely spent money on myself.
With Your permission, however, I am wondering if, perhaps this Christmas, You’d allow me to buy a small tree, nothing to extravagant or expensive, just a modest purchase to bring a little warmth and cheer to our humble apartment?
I’m expecting a birthday check in the mail LORD, and I am wondering if it would be okay to use the money for such a whimsical purpose. With Your permission, I’ll spend no more than the $30.00 birthday money and I’ll do my best to glorify You through the purchase. If this is Your will LORD, would You please move Your Spirit within my heart? Thank You, LORD. Amen.
Glorious Master, it didn’t take long before I felt Your Spirit direct my heart. Although I must say, I was quite surprised by where I thought You wanted me to go. I had an overwhelming feeling to drive towards the larger, more popular Christmas tree farm in our town. In a moment of doubt, I felt certain that we would never find a tree within our budget. So, before we left our apartment, I expressed my concern with Travis, "I'll just drive down the main road, look at the price chart and turn around if I can't afford one of the trees. Okay, Son?" To which, Travis sweetly nodded “Yes.”
However, once we drove onto the lot, my son’s eyes and spirit seemed to lift with joyful anticipation. The tree farm was bustling with activity. Just from the car, we could see children swinging high in the air from what looked like tree swings. Other people were walking to their cars with their trees wrapped in plastic netting. And there was a long line to see Santa Claus, who with great happiness, shouted “Ho Ho Ho,” from inside an oversized sleigh. How could I turn the car around now and leave the tree farm with a young son who would be wet with tears all the way home?
We got out of the car and walked towards the front gate. Suddenly, my young and faithful son grabbed my hand and said, "Mommy, can we pray?" I bowed my head and he began to pray, "Lord, we just bless You for this day. Thank you for this day. Please help us to find a cheap Christmas tree. Help us to find the one You want for us. We just bless You, Lord. I love You, Lord. In Your precious name. Amen." I immediately crouched down on one knee, hugged my son tightly and said, "That's the perfect way to pray Son. You always pray for God's will. I am so proud of you!"
Then, just inside the gate, we found ourselves staring at Santa Claus. My son smiled and said, "Look mom!" I giggled and asked, "Do you want to go see Santa?" He shook his head and said, "Yes, please." We walked right up to the sleigh. Suddenly we were the only ones in line. Santa handed me a bite size candy cane and invited my son to join him in the sleigh. At first, Travis hesitated. He looked up to me for confirmation. I said, "Go ahead," and nudged Travis’ shoulder forward. Then he climbed in the sleigh and sat upon Santa's lap. When Santa Claus asked my son what he wanted for Christmas, Travis replied, "Power Rangers..." After that, he climbed back down and stood by my side.
Almost immediately, I felt an awkward pause. Was the man in the red suit waiting for me to say something to him? I began, "Actually Santa, we believe in Jesus Christ. We don’t believe in Santa Claus.” Then, I took a long deep breath. As a slowly exhaled, I anticipated his response. I wasn’t expecting his reply to affect me so intensely. Having heard my profession of faith, the man in the Santa suit looked me directly in the eye and said, "Me too! He saved my life. I was in a coma recently and no one knew what was going to happen. But He let me live. So, I believe too!"
I choked back the tears. Had the man wearing the Santa Claus suit just shared his testimony with me? We slowly walked away. And, as we did, I grabbed Travis’ hand and said, “Sounds like Santa might be a believer too Son.” Travis began to jump up and down. Then, with a gentle tug of my arm, he began to skip by my side as we walked to the first row of Christmas trees.
Where to start? I remembered my young son’s prayer. “The tree You want for us Lord,” he asked. We started down one row. With every price tag I read, my heart sunk more and more. Then, suddenly, we came upon one tree that was the exact type I wanted. Yet, I simply couldn't bring myself to reach out and turn the price tag. I was too afraid to feel disappointed. In a sad and nervous tone, I said, “I bet these trees are too expensive for us to afford son.”
That’s when Travis, with increasing gusto, began to repeat the same little phrase, “Please be a cheap tree. Please be a cheap tree!” Then, he bravely turned the price tag face up. Suddenly and with great excitement, he screamed, "$29.95! It’s cheap Mommy!" Unbelievable! The tree was small, less than five feet, so I decided to chop the fir down myself. After all, I had seen this done many times before. "How hard can it be," I thought. So, I went back to the tree entrance and grabbed a hand saw. But after only about twenty minutes I was tired! I was attempting to cut through the whole tree. About halfway through, my arms were screaming in pain. Perhaps if go to the opposite side of the tree and make another cut?
But halfway through the other side, I noticed I had created two cuts at different levels. I sat back on my heels. I wiped my brow. Quickly, out of nowhere, I heard, "Do you want some help?" I said, "Yes please!" A young Christmas tree lot employee had come to my rescue, armed with a chainsaw. When he was done cutting the tree down, I asked him his name. He replied, "It's Michael." I smiled, and said, "Did you know that your name means ‘Who is like God?' ”
The young man loaded the tree on the back of a tractor and asked us if we wanted a ride. I replied, "Yes, that would be great," and we hopped on the rear of the tractor. Travis looked up at me and said, "This is the best day ever!"
Then, as we unloaded the tree and walked up to the checkout area, I noticed that the pleasant young woman handling the payment transactions was wearing a beautiful cross around her neck. The cross was bigger than any charm I had ever seen. The pink and gold stones were shining brightly. I said, “You must be a believer too.” She replied, "I am. Most of us here are.”
My son grabbed the front end of the tree as I held on to the stump. We walked to our car and I looked up to notice that an elderly man was parking his truck nearby. As he backed his truck into a parking slot, the man held his hand out of the window and gave my son and me a "thumbs up” signal. I smiled as I received his warm gesture. I then in my heart, I prayed to You. "Thank You, LORD. Thank You!"
What a day it has been. We ended the night by stringing lights on the tree and cheerily placing ornaments that said, “Joy, Peace, and Love,” on our family tree. As we hung the final ornament, my young son asked if he could create one of his own. He ran into his room and returned five minutes later holding his precious handmade gift. Speechless, I watched as our seven-year-old carefully hanged his heart shaped decoration on our tree. The ornament simply read, "Jesus Loves You.” With misty eyes and a prayer from my heart, I replied, “I love You too LORD.”