THREE {the real reason for the Season}

Merry Christmas everyone! And boy has it been a good one.

On Sunday my good friend Raegan was giving a lesson in Sunday School. She shared a story that I instantly fell in love with. It’s a story that follows the lives of three special trees and what they would tell you if they could talk. This story is the perfect story for this special occasion we celebrate on the 25th of December every year, but it also lays out a pattern we should follow during the other 264 days of our lives. This is the Story of the Three Trees:

Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, “Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty.”
Then the second tree said, “Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull.”
Finally the third tree said, “I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.”
After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, “This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter,”and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.
At the second tree the woodsman said, “This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard.” The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.
When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, “I don’t need anything special from my tree, I’ll take this one,” and he cut it down.
When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay.
This was not at all what he had prayed for. The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end. The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark. The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.
Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.
Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn’t think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said “Peace” and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.
Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.
The moral of this story is that when things don’t seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined. We don’t always know what God’s plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.
May your day be blessed. And until we meet again, may God cradle you in the palm of His hand.

As we celebrate Christmas we often make the mistake of leaving baby Jesus in the manger. We decorate with nativity sets and we sing of silent night, but we forget that Jesus didn’t stay in the manger for very long.

On the last day before leaving on Christmas break I was sitting in a seminary assembly when we learned about the three levels of Christmas.

The first level is the level of Jingle Bells and Santa Clause. It is the level of stalkings and Rudolph, It is the level of elves and toys. While this level is fun, it often distracts from the more important levels of Christmas.

The second level is one of Jesus Christs birth. It includes silent night and nativity sets. When people tell the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, it is the second level in which they celebrate. While this is the most popular level when it comes to Christian Christmases, it is not the level we should stop at. Christ’s birth was the most magnificent birth, but there is so much more to be celebrated when it comes to celebrating Christ. I do not remember who said it, but there is a quote that says “the man who leaves baby Jesus in the manger will be sorely disappointed.” It is often said that if it wasn’t for Christ’s Atoning sacrifice, his birth would have been just another birth.

The third level of Christmas is possibly the most magnificent. The third level of Christmas follows Christ through the rest of his mortal ministry, and can also follow us into the rest of our year if we let it. This is the level of the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This level of Christmas celebrates Jesus as the Christ. Jesus was foreordained before the earth was created to become our Savior, by suffering for all of our pains and afflictions, atoning for our sins, and ultimately suffering the pains of death so that we might be able to return to live with our Father in Heaven if we might repent. The third level of Christmas is the real reason for the season.

I love the above story because it does not leave baby Jesus in the manger, but also gives a small glimpse into his life and ministry, as well as give a reminder as to why Christ is so celebrated this season; because of his Atonement. 

I also love this story because it invites you to place yourself into Christ’s story. It is a reminder that while Christ’s birth, life, and death are the greatest gift you have ever been given, it will prophet you nothing unless you accept him into your life and follow his commandments. 

As this Christmas season comes to a close I hope you all take a minute to celebrate the real reason for the season, and in the words of Adam, our seminary council president, “I invite you to dedicate some time to our Savior, and appreciate his eternal sacrifice and his condescension, so that all mankind may be saved. It is his birthday after all!”

I love you all so much and am thankful for you every day of my life. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the joy I can summon. 

feel my sunlight

p.s. Santa brought me mission luggage! And fun fact… I can fit inside it! haha


3 thoughts on “THREE {the real reason for the Season}

  1. Sarah K. says:

    This is such a beautiful post, Whit! I love the tree story and your thoughts about the three levels of Christmas. Both are such wonderful reminders for the real meaning of the holiday, and I totally needed that.

    Merry (one day late) Christmas!


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