Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Home Group (11/29/07)
- TITLE: One Tiny, Forlorn Tree, One Fragile Man, and A Life Group Family
By Marty Wellington
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“Hey Honey, what are you doing out there? Our life group will be here any minute. I could use your help getting ready.” Silence.
“Dan?” Rumbles emerged from my husband’s workshop on the other side of the garage. “Dan?”
A dust-covered head popped out from around the door. A boyish grin spread across his face. “I’m comin’ Honey. I’ve got a surprise for everyone.”
A couple minutes later, my husband waltzed through the kitchen with a miniature tree. The forlorn little sprite sported a bent top and barely enough greenery to call it an evergreen. Its spindly limbs were pitiful.
“What are you doing with that tree limb?” It was about that time I noticed a sparkling golden star swinging from the top of the tree.
Dan laughed. “How do you like our new Christmas tree?”
“What?” Peering into the family room, shock set in as I noticed our faithful ponderosa pine from the basement was missing. In its place was a small table draped in a white sheet. An assortment of broken ornaments and other decorations I couldn’t identify were scattered around the table.
“Is this a joke, honey? Where’s our artificial tree?”
“Well if you can just wait until life group, all will be revealed.” And, he winked mischievously.
Within an hour, young couples with their kids began to arrive. Laughter and squeals mixed with the rustle of gift bags filled our home. Several women eyed our little tree with pity. I kept occupied, maneuvering back and forth between the kitchen and the family room to deliver warm drinks and snacks.
When everyone was settled, Dan flicked the dimmer switch on our overhead lights. A well-stoked fire and strings of twinkle lights provided the only illumination in the room.
“Let’s open our evening in prayer.” Heads bowed and we all reached out to join hands. Several of the squirmier little ones kept their moms alert. Smiles erupted all around with the antics. It was family.
“I know some of our younger members are excited about presents, but first I have a special story to tell all of you. I bet you’re all wondering what Carol and I were thinking when we put up this tiny tree to welcome in the season. First of all, poor Carol didn’t know a thing about this until today.”
I smiled nervously, wondering what Dan had up his sleeve.
“In my quiet time last week I had an image of this little tree, bent and forsaken out on the hill behind our house. I walked out there and found it, just like I had seen it in my mind. It was struggling to survive, battling the winds. God reminded me that I was much like this little evergreen—fragile, crooked, unsure about life and whether I was gonna make it or not.” Dan’s voice grew husky. I could see the tears forming in his eyes.
“That’s when I knew I had to bring the tree inside. I dug up its root system and planted it in this pot. I want us all to share it. The star near the top, of course, represents the star the Wise Men followed. Are you seeking Christ, the everlasting Star, this season? The ornaments surrounding the tree represent things in our lives that we have used in our attempt to make ourselves better in His sight. Some are broken because like all of us we have sinned; there are broken pieces in all of us.”
Dan asked everyone to go forward and add a decoration to the tree—a broken piece if they were struggling with a certain sin or an ornament that represented their character/current walk with God. As we went around the circle, each one described why they chose a specific decoration. It was family.
I watched my husband in wonder. Less than a year ago, he wasn’t even in a leadership role at our church and now God was working in his life in powerful ways, sharing wonderful truths with him, growing his faith and our group’s.
One tiny, forlorn tree, one fragile man, and a life group family—all miracles of God’s love.
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