The Star of Christmas

Putting the star on top of the Christmas tree is the greatest honor in yuletide decorating.  Oh sure the lights are important, but there are a million lights.  They’re a dime a dozen.  And ornaments?  Don’t even get me started.  Who’s going to notice where you hang one of dozens of ornaments on your festive evergreen?  

But the star?  C’mon, that’s the top dog.  The big cheese.  The head honcho.  There’s only one tree topper, and only one person can put it in place.  That person pretty much dominates the entire hall decking operation.  

At least that’s how my daughters saw it when they were little.  That’s why we had to establish an orderly system for them to take turns each year as the designated star hanger.  My wife even went so far as to put a note in the box with our Christmas star to remind us who had the distinction of hanging the star the previous year.  That way there would be no dispute as to who was up to bat this holiday season.  

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Excess Baggage

Packing for vacation always causes stress in my marriage.  My wife Christy packs the bare essentials.  I pack like a twelve year old girl.  Just as it is impossible for me to travel light, it is impossible for her to waste a single square inch of our luggage on frivolous items.  I, on the other hand, am like a Boy Scout who always insists on being prepared.  

What if it rains?  I’ll need a poncho.   What if I get hungry?  Better bring plenty of snacks.  What if there’s a blizzard?  Throw in the wool socks.  What if I get some time to read?  Going to need plenty of books.  What if there’s a terrorist attack?  Radiation suit.  Definitely better bring the radiation suit. 

If I were an action figure, I’d come with a lot of accessories. 

I’m convinced that somewhere in my childhood I must have been snowed in without food and water because I have such a fear of scarcity when packing.  I hate packing at the last minute because I’m convinced I’m going to forget something.  And what could be worse than that?  I might actually end up somewhere without something I need. 

When it’s packing time, Christy and I are the irresistible force and the immovable object colliding in an epic battle of wills.  Now that we have kids, she’s actually demoted me down to a smaller suitcase, something about the size of my grade school lunch box.

I’ve countered that move with a whole range of tactics.  Sometimes I pack extra bags, like backpacks and overnight bags, and slip them in the car when she’s not looking.   Other times, I’ll cram things under car seats or in the corner of the trunk.   When I’m truly desperate, I’ll hide some of my stuff in Christy’s luggage or the kids’.   I know, brilliant, right? 

Back and forth we go in a relentless game of cat and mouse.   The only problem is that even when I win I end up losing. 

Guess who ends up carrying most of this luggage?  Some days it can be a real hassle.  To be totally honest, sometimes it makes me wonder if I could get by carrying around a little bit less.  That would mean letting go of some stuff, though, and letting go is never easy. 

Sometimes I catch myself carrying my packrat tendencies into my spiritual life.

When it comes to our hearts, we’re all carrying around some heavy baggage.  Whether it’s guilt or grudges, disappointment or destructive habits, it’s easy to pick up things we were never meant to carry.  The result?  It saps our strength, breaks our back and steals our joy. 

Maybe that’s why Jesus invited people like me, people who are weary and burdened, to come and hang out with Him and rest.  He talked about what it would be like to trade our heavy loads in for a life that’s easy and light. 

Easy and light.  On a day like today when I feel like I’m carrying the weight of my world, easy and light sounds pretty good. 

What are you carrying that you shouldn’t?  What’s getting in the way of the life you were made to live?  Whatever it is, whatever is weighing you down, take it from a fellow over-packer – you’ll be happier if you can just leave some stuff behind.  

Maybe it’s time to trade in that suitcase for a lunchbox.  Or better yet, maybe it’s time to lose the baggage altogether.