The Sword and The Christmas Tree

by | Joy in the Trenches | 0 comments

Ephesians 6:17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

I got my new sword yesterday. That might seem like a strange statement coming from a sixty-nine-year-old woman. If I said I received a new cross-stitch kit (which I also enjoyO or new earrings, it would seem more appropriate. But I love swords.

This one is a replica of a Roman gladius. It feels good in my hand. There is nothing better than wrapping my fingers around the hilt of a well-balanced, sharpened sword. Unfortunately for my husband, this is not my first sword, nor my second, nor my . . . well, let’s not go there. Needless to say, I have a very wonderful, long-suffering lover.

Why do I desire swords? Perhaps it has something to do with growing up the only girl in a neighborhood of boys. My big brother, Tim, taught me how to make a fist so I didn’t hurt my thumb when I fought back.

Perhaps it had something to do with the bullying I encountered in school, or the chronic illness that shadowed my entire life. By the time I was eight, I firmly believed life was a war, and even if I couldn’t win it, I was going to go down fighting with honor.

Do swords still represent my combative spirit? Nope. Not when I am approaching sixty-nine. You see, I also love Christmas trees. I haven’t taken mine down in two years. Since I live in Florida, I explain to those who enter my home that here it is always Christmas, never winter. (Apologies, Mr. C. S. Lewis).

I never want to live through one day without that overwhelming realization that God Himself took on humanity and dwelt among us. No matter how dark my day is, how filled with grief or stress or worry, that lit tree reminds me of the reality of Christ and His love for me.

And the sword? When I hold my sword, I remember the reality of Jesus’ death and resurrection. He took my judgment so I could receive God’s mercy. Now the sword is no longer a threat, but stands for Christ in me. He is the Word, and His dwelling in/with me is my life, my joy, my peace.

But the gladius is a two-edged sword and cuts both ways. Seeking those parts of my thinking and loving that are not in step with the Holy Spirit and, therefore, are to my detriment, it slices into me like a surgical scalpel excising a tumor.

It also seeks to enter the lives of those around me. Through Christ’s love, I can love—not in a people-pleasing, self-seeking way, but for the benefit of that other person.

In John 13, Jesus says we are to love others as He loved us, and He gave us foot-washing as a symbol of that kind of love. It’s a dirty business. We need to lay down our lives for others, coming alongside of their struggles and sufferings, doing whatever we can to serve and sacrifice as Christ would.

It is only through Christ that we can love others like this. I don’t have the strength, nor the wisdom, to do it myself.

Fortunately for me, if I ever forget that I live in Christ and Christ lives in me, all I have to do is light up my Christmas tree. Christ in me, my hope of glory. If I forget that I as well as those around me must all be loved and growing into the likeness of Jesus, I swing my sword.

Okay. Confession time. Swinging my sword is pure fun. This one is connected to its own baldric, so I can wear it over my shoulder like a purse. Personally, I think it should be the new fashion in accessorizing. Do you think I could wear it into Publix?

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