This year Clif and I discovered an important truth about artificial Christmas trees.
Pre-lit trees only stay pre-lit for one year!
After that, depending on how you store the tree, you can expect hours of frustration and endless headaches troubleshooting the lights on your ‘convenient and easy to assemble’ Christmas decoration.
That was our predicament this week as we pulled our stored trees (yes, we have several) out of the attic to begin decking the halls at our house in preparation for entertaining guests. Envisioning that we’d quickly pop the tree together and slide it into place, our expectations were dashed when we discovered that many of the light strings were completely out while others were only half functional. The difficulty of identifying the sources of the problems was compounded by the fact that the strings were tied in place on every branch!
We had some heated discussions about what to do and solutions ranged from just adding some new lights on top of the faulty ones to replacing all of the lights with more expensive LEDs to putting the tree back in the attic and waiting until next year to deal with it. However, after considering the options, we resigned ourselves to begin the painstaking process of taking all the light strings off the tree so they could be properly assessed. That meant Clif ended up sitting on the living room floor for hours surrounded by a field of numerous coiling strings as he meticulously checked each bulb to evaluate and find the cause of the darkened lights.
What I learned from him about string lights in the process is that when you plug them in, the voltage that’s applied to the wire is evenly divided across all the bulbs. When one of them goes out, the added load has to be carried by the remaining lamps. Once enough burn out, the voltage on each bulb becomes so high it often causes them to all cascade fail suddenly.
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. ~ Lamentations 3:40
I think there are times when Christians can benefit greatly from doing exactly what Clif did with our Christmas lights. Often, we become so smothered by temptation, distracted by the culture, or sidelined by heartache that our light for Jesus dims or goes out altogether. Sometimes when we rush to identify what seems to be the fault, we’re prone to act on impulse in hopes of quickly jolting ourselves back into what we hope will be useful service, but in the long run, rash responses and quick solutions can actually short-circuit our efforts and cost us more in time, money and emotional stress.
So, when your spiritual lights are starting to flicker, instead of moving too swiftly, maybe the better option would be to slow down and start the long systematic process of evaluating the actual source of your real problems. This often requires going back over areas that you may have long thought to be firmly established to find loose connections and burned out filaments. This proper maintenance and thorough inspection helps identify and correct points of failure before your whole ‘string’ fails!
As the time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior approaches, consider this an apt moment for a thorough examination of your own life just as we did our light strings, and with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, be willing to make small adjustments before your problems build into a big mess. Just remember, the consequences of ignoring a few neglected areas of your life may cost way more than a few new strings of lights!