• Beth Hildebrand

What artificial candles and God have in common

The downstairs looks like a disaster with stuff scattered everywhere. It’s Christmas decorating time. It’s when you’re hurriedly taking down those pumpkins, wiping the dust that formed around them to make room for the Christmas decorations. There’s just something about decorating for Christmas that makes me happy.


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This past weekend, while we began the task of Christmas decorating, my husband hollered down while he was in the attic, “The boxes up here that have Christmas decorations in them take up half the attic space!”

And although I’m excited to open up those boxes and pulling out those stockings and wreathes to hang on the windows, for some reason this year, I’m not feeling the notion to get everything out of the boxes and use all the decorations we’ve collected through the years. In the past I’ve kept adding to the collection and I never get rid of any others and end up finding a place to use almost all of them…even though it might be too much.

But not this year. I honestly feel a little torn wondering if I’m OK. I mean, I usually go all out for Christmas. This year for the first time in our 16 years of marriage, we decided not to go cut down a live Christmas tree.

We’ve always had that tradition!

It was broken.

We’re using an artificial tree we got for $20 after Christmas last year.

I thought I’d never do that.

But to my surprise, I’m OK with it. And so are my husband and kids. My son said he like the challenge of trying to find which “stems” went in which rows on the pole.

I just feel like needing to be more simple.

So, since I’ve decided to be a little simpler this year, this afternoon I was putting a centerpiece on our dining room table and had the idea of just putting a candle in a vase with a little bit of greenery and be done with it.

The candles I put in the vases were a birthday gift I was given last week. They’re artificial but pretty cool because they came with a remote allowing you to control the time they come on and turn off. Even though there isn’t a real flame…or any flame at all… you can see a light flickering inside of the candle.

Today I was reading John 1:9-12 the suggested advent reading for the day from the Good Morning Girl study I’m doing.

9 The true Light, who shines upon the heart of everyone, was coming into the cosmos.10 He entered our world, a world He made; yet the world did not recognize Him. 11 Even though He came to His own people, they refused to listen and receive Him. 12 But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God;

In the bible translation I was reading, The Voice, there’s a side note saying,

Jesus as the Light does not call out from a distant place but draws near by coming into the world.

As I wrote those words in my journal all of a sudden James 4:8 came to my mind. “Draw near to God and He’ll draw near to you.”

In those verses in John, God spoke of the people who refused to receive Him and those who chose to receive and trust Him…who chose to draw near to Himwho chose to be drawn to the Light.

This evening walking through the dining room, the only light in the room was from the window candle, tree and those artificial candles on the table. Those candles on the table drew my attention unlike the others.

It looked like there was a flame coming from the candle, reflecting off the glass. Shooting out from an artificial candle that had no flame.


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I took a double look wondering if I’m starting to need glasses.

It was only on that one candle where I saw a flame flickering.

“Draw near to Me,” the Light calls out to me.

“In this busyness of preparing this month, slow down and enjoy the lights – even more – THE Light. I’m here and waiting at the table for you.”

I had to take a deep breath.

Be still.

Even for a moment.

And be grateful for moments from God that can be found in something as simple as a gift of an artificial candle that draws my attention to Him in this crazy-busy month.

I’m joining in today with Emily Freeman and Chatting at the Sky. For the month of December she’s opening the gift to be part of Tuesdays Unwrapped. It’s where people can write about “the lovely, the messy, and the unexpected gifts of our daily rhythm” each Tuesday in December.

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