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TONY ELDER: God loves us more than we can imagine

God loves us more than we know

Have you started taking down your Christmas tree yet?

As I was taking another look at the one decorating our living room, I was reminded of how much our grandchildren had enjoyed exploring its contents this year. They were thrilled to see each of them with their own individual ornament with a picture in it, commemorating their first Christmas in this world.

They thought it was funny to see other ornaments with pictures of their mommy, aunt, and uncle as children sitting on Santa's lap. They were excited to find decorations on the tree which they had made for us in past years.

In addition, they simply enjoyed finding the many snowmen, angels, Disney characters, and other figures adorning our tree. They had to ring every bell and try to open and close the mouth on every nutcracker. They seemed especially amused at the ornament shaped like "the big chicken" in Marietta where their great-grandparents live.

I have to confess that every year I give my wife a hard time about how full our tree is of decorations.

I try to suggest that some of those ornaments could easily be retired or disposed of, especially when I can no longer find any empty spots to hang things. But my wife always insists that every ornament is meaningful and that there's still plenty of room on the tree.

Although the Bible refers to the tree of life in heaven, I don't know if there will be any Christmas trees there.

But I wouldn't be surprised if there is some means by which our heavenly Father will display His great love for us, commemorate some of the significant milestones in our lives, and celebrate some of our works which managed to survive the purifying fire of judgment.

I'd like to take a moment to imagine it to be like a Christmas tree.

If God had such a tree, the pictures of all His children would be on it. Each one different and unique, but sharing a common faith in Christ and a mutual love for Him. The Christlike family resemblance will be seen in the inward character of each person represented there.

Maybe our Father will have ornaments marking special moments in our lives -- some we will quickly recognize and others we may not have given much significance to at the time.

There will certainly be a cross-shaped ornament with our name on it and a date signifying when we put our trust in Christ as Savior and was born into His kingdom.

We may find some of our handiwork hanging on that tree, although it may look rather dull and shabby compared to the glory of its heavenly surroundings. Yet our Father valued it, kept it, and put it on display with the words "well done, my good and faithful servant."

I imagine that tree being full of examples of God's guidance and protection throughout our lives, pictures of people who impacted us and whose lives we touched, along with surprises of how God's providential hand was working in our circumstances in life, even when we weren't aware of it.

Sometimes we lose sight of how much God loves us. Take your love for your children or grandchildren and multiply it many times over, and maybe it will give you some idea of how your heavenly Father feels about you.

No, I don't know if there will be any Christmas trees in heaven. But there will be a Father there who loves us more than we can imagine.

If He does have a tree there with decorations on it in connection with His children, it will be so full that we'll be able to spend eternity exploring and enjoying its treasures.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.