Tinsel or Garland? What's on Your Tree?
Read: 2 Peter 3:1-13
Yesterday, my husband and I decorated our Christmas tree. This is our second year for this particular one. Two years ago, we got rid of our old tree because we got flocked each time we brushed against it; so pretty or not, it had to go. Whenever we trim the tree, I think of two things from childhood.
1. Almost every time my father plugged in the lights on the tree, a fuse blew causing much consternation.
2. My father always said that it was the tinsel that made the tree. The house rule, which I'm not certain I kept scrupulously, was that one piece of tinsel was to be put on at a time. No grabbing it in masse.
Just for fun, I looked up tinsel to see if anyone still decorates with it. I found a cute article indicating that three strands of tinsel should be placed on each branch, and that each sparkling strand should be placed 1.29 inches from the branches' tips. Today's tinsel is thinner than that used decades ago, and it comes in vibrant colors to enhance the tree's beauty. So, what's on our tree? Garland! It is still pretty, but decorating is quicker and less complicated.
Quicker and less complicated. Isn't that the way we wish life's difficult circumstances would be resolved? Yes! Don't we want the Lord to fix things at the speed of walking the garland around the tree? Yet, frequently, His timing is like the putting on of tinsel. He works methodically one strand at a time. He isn't in a hurry as we so often are. His attention is toward the details of both individual lives and His eternal plan when He will usher in His kingdom which will never end, Matthew 10:29-31; 2 Peter 3:10-13.
Understandably because of our humanity and God's wondrous promises, we long for Him to return and make everything right, Psalm 96:10-13;Isaiah 11:1-9.
Because of God's perfect ways, which seem to be unfolding in the slow lane from our point of view, it is good to have Peter's encouragement in 2 Peter 3. It is as if the apostle's words spring right out of our headlines. Peter speaks of a mocking of God that we see all around us. The King of Kings is made sport of and ridiculed. Often people think the Holy One surely will judge right away. Quickly. Yet, aren't we told that when He revealed His glory to Moses the Lord said that He is gracious and merciful as well as slow to anger, Exodus 34:6. How beautifully that Old Testament description lines up with Peter's words. God is not slow in the same way that people are slow to get things done because of inattentiveness or apathy. No, rather than that, He is purposefully waiting. In His perfect timing more people will be saved. Perhaps even some for whom we have been praying. He has no pleasure in the wicked man dying without having turned to Him; rather, He longs that men might repent and be saved, Ezekiel 33:11.
If it becomes wearying for us to wait for the Lord to act, Peter reminds both us and those who mock to remember the flood. Yes, I know that there are so many who mock at the idea that the world was ever destroyed by God's command, Genesis 6:11-13.
For more than 100 years, God waited with purpose. His patience was great, and the people who lived on the earth were given a large window of grace between the time that Noah began to build the ark and the day God shut Noah and his family safely inside, Genesis 7:13-16. For all of those years that preceded that day, God's work must have seemed slow; however, when God shut the ark's door, His working was swift and irrevocable. All flesh on the earth died. God's activity proceeded from the pace of putting tinsel on the tree to the pace of throwing the garland on in an instant. God's timing is flawless whether He is slowly at work or His actions come in the twinkling of an eye, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. God's work in either case displays His perfect holiness.
Lord, may the beauty of a decorated tree, whether adorned with tinsel or garland remind us that You are at work. Lord, please open the eyes of those around us to the truth that right now You are offering grace; however, a day is coming when that offer will come to an end. Please help us to be ready to tell someone how You patiently waited for us.