by Emily Conrad
When we decided on a real tree this year, I had no concerns about our stock of Christmas lights with which to illuminate the tree.
A mass of lights–colorful! white! icicle! extra large!–lay tangled in the basement, waiting for their moment to shine.
Or so I thought.
We put up the tree and gave the branches time to settle, then I hauled up my supply. Before putting strings on the tree, I plugged them in.
Turns out, I had plenty of strings of lights, but not nearly enough that worked. Some sets didn’t light up at all, some half-lit, some had burned out bulbs that I could easily replace…except that the other bulbs I had weren’t the same brightness.
So, I did what any self-respecting thirty-six-year-old with a retired electrical engineer for a father would do.
I tried to fix the lights myself.
I enacted a plan to systematically replace each bulb in dark sections of the string with a bulb I knew worked.
And then I got thoroughly confused, lost my place, and fixed nothing.
So then I did what what a self-respecting thirty-six-year-old with a retired electrical engineer for a father should really have done.
I texted Dad and set up a time to work on them together.
When he arrived, I expected him to enact a better, more organized version of the same process I’d attempted on my own.
Instead, Dad brought with him equipment to test light bulbs, to run reduced voltage through the strings, and to measure…amperage?… to determine which direction on each string contained a problem.
He drew me diagrams, assigned me tasks, and asked questions to check for understanding.
The undertaking was not the quick and easy process I’d hoped, but Dad knew what he was doing.
Even the steps I still don’t grasp, he thoroughly understood. Every test he ran had a purpose, every task he assigned me got us closer to our goal.
Funny how sometimes, expertise slows down the process instead of speeding it up.
Something similar happens between me and my Heavenly Father.
He invites me to bring all my cares to Him, rather than trying to fix problems myself.
Without Him, I have no hope, but I can be stubborn and forgetful. Far more often than I should, I try to go it alone, figure it out on my own.
Failures remind me it’s long past time to call my heavenly Father.
So, I bring the problem to God, and pretty consistently, I hope for a quick resolution. After all, He’s God. All powerful. He can do all things.
But my Heavenly Father’s ways are even further beyond mine than my earthly father’s ways in respect to a string of Christmas lights.
Still, I am His daughter, and He’s patient with me.
He sits me down. His tools are mercy and grace and love and righteousness and justice. He leads me through a process that involves testing and patience because, in His wisdom, the Lord knows the fast answer I long for wouldn’t result in ultimate good.
Everything Jesus does has purpose. Even when I don’t understand His plan or His ways, I can trust Him.
Just like I knew I could trust Dad to get to the bottom of my Christmas light dilemma.
After four hours, Dad and I had repaired enough strings of lights to decorate the tree, the front windows, and a railing.
The result is pretty, but you know what else I can trust? My Heavenly Father is working something infinitely more beautiful as He patiently works in me and my life for His glory.
Indeed, you light my lamp, Lord.
My God illuminates the darkness around me.
Psalm 18:28, NET
PS – I’m on Jerusha Agen’s Fear Warrior blog this week with a post about the shepherds, the vulnerability of our hopes and dreams, and the God who sent hope to us. Plus, I’m giving away a Kindle copy of Justice to someone who comments on that post before 12/23/19. You can go give it a read here.
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