Monday, January 3, 2011

Fleeting Fame

For the past month, they were celebrated.  People dressed them up, told stories around them, prayed near them, lit them up and hung precious family keepsakes on them.  They stood tall, beautiful and lush.

Soon, they will be in a pile, stacked up, lying on their side with decorations taken off of them, lights stripped off and the only thing that is left from their month or so of glory is a few shiny tinsels left on the branches as they sit in the "recycle" pile, awaiting their destiny.

My heart broke as I saw the huge pile of used Christmas trees in my neighborhood.  How could we be so cruel?  What a sight it is - especially for someone like me who loves Christmas so much - to see a pile of beautiful trees who were still green and beautiful, but already forgotten.

I suppose that is how it is in life.  My thoughts turned to the way people chase fame.  People want to be loved, adored, lifted up and celebrated.  If we are honest, this would be something each of us has a desire for deep down in our human soul.  But what does fame really have to offer?

If you look around at those who are famous, you will notice a couple of consistent principles.  First, fame is fleeting.  Just like the Christmas trees, people can be celebrated, adored and admired for a season, but inevitably, the world will move on and the famous one must work even harder to be noticed.  I've often thought that desire to stay in the limelight is what ruins so many people.  Is it better to have had it and lost it or never have had it at all?  We've seen it time and time again - people just don't stay famous once they get there unless there is tremendous effort and marketability.  So many child actors have gone down some dark roads because of this life pattern.

The season comes and goes, and so do the trees.  Next year, we get a new one, maybe even a taller one with lusher branches!  The world always looks for something better, something with more to offer.  It is impossible to please everyone, all the time.

Secondly, even though they are celebrated (almost worshiped at times) those who are famous are often lifeless inside - like the Christmas tree who has been uprooted.  The tree relies on people to keep it alive and watered, just as a famous person must rely on people's attention to remain famous.  But eventually, the trees will die without the root, and so do people.  It may look good on the outside, but inside, there is often a lifeless soul who is dependent on the care of others.

This world has nothing to offer us, in reality.  The desire we have deep down to be loved and adored comes from our deep desire for a relationship with God mixed with a very misled attempt to fill it with something fleeting.  In order to experience lasting love, adoration and celebration, we can only find that in one place - in the arms of our Savior, Jesus Christ. If we seek Him first above everything else, everything will fall into place in our lives (Matt. 6:33) - including our need for acceptance.  We can find that acceptance and love in the arms of our Savior.

Our tossed out Christmas trees serve as a reminder to us to seek God's approval above all else.  He will never put unrealistic expectations on us.  He will never look for someone "better" or "more attractive".  He will never leave us, He will never forsake us.  He will always keep us as the apple of His eye! 

Even Jesus Christ, the greatest man to ever walk the face of the earth, was rejected by people.  His fame came from His obedience to God, not winning people's approval.  Thank God!  We do not have to be uprooted to find the love we so desperately crave!  Our roots just need to dig even deeper into the true Root, Jesus Christ, where we will find Living Water for our souls.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 This is what the Lord says:  "Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord....But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the LORD their hope and confidence!  They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.  Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.  Their leaves stay green and they never stop producing fruit."

1 Thessalonians 2:4 ...Our purpose is to please God, not people.  He alone examines the motives of our hearts.

Galatians 1:10 Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.  If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant.

1 Peter 2:4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God's temple.  He was rejected by people, but He was chosen by God for great honor.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic Leslie! I was just thinking the same as you yesterday as my kids were outside playing. These poor trees died for us so we could have some beauty for a short time and now they are thrown away....Poor trees....Silly I know, but I, like you see the analogy. Likes you said.. let this be a reminder of how AWESOME God is, and NEVER put him aside :) His beauty is FOREVER!!!

Leslie Nease said...

Thank you so much! Glad I'm not the only one who sees it, though it is quite heart-breaking, isn't it? Have a beautiful 2011!

Anonymous said...

I too felt disturbed and sad at the sight of tossed out Christmas trees lying on the curbs alone and forgotten. Thanks for giving these trees some more thought in this reflective blog blessing Leslie!

Scott & Susan Woodman said...

What a beautiful article. I totally understand your concern about the Christmas trees, which is why I did my own research on artificial vs. real trees. I'll share some of that here to encourage others to properly recycle their Christmas trees, and to give you some hope :)

Natural (real) Christmas trees are entirely biodegradable and are generally disposed of in landfills, or used for mulch, to prevent erosion, kindling wood or as fishbeds in lakes. Real trees are carbon-neutral, they emit no more carbon dioxide by being cut down and disposed of than they absorb while growing. Naturals will generate 3.1 kg of greenhouse gases every year (based on purchasing 5km from home) whereas the artificial tree will produce 48.3 kg over its lifetime. Some people use Living Christmas or potted trees for several seasons, providing a longer life cycle for each tree. Living Christmas trees can be purchased or rented in by local market growers. Live trees are typically grown as a crop and replanted in rotation after cutting, often providing suitable habitat for wildlife.

So, anyone out there who is just now taking down your natural tree -- recycle! Usually, the Christmas tree farm where you purchased your tree will collect dead trees, or local municipalities collect them. Once you are finished with your Christmas tree indoors, you can decorate it with birdy edible decorations! You help feed the birds, plus they take twigs and pine needles to build their nests.

Leslie Nease said...

Susan, thank you so much! That was wonderful. :) Happy New Year!

Got Questions?