The Means, The End, And The By-Product
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 05 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Strength And Beauty)
It is so late on December 25 that it is December 26.
The children have long since finished their day and Dad is alone watching a melancholy Christmas tree which, like Cinderella, occupied itself so much with the activities of the day that it forgot midnight would come.
But it did come, as all midnights do and with it, I think I saw the branches droop, realizing that tomorrow they will have served their usefulness.
"Why all the fuss!" Dad thinks, as his mind wanders from his checkbook to his pay check and back to his checkbook again.
Why did I spend hours looking for the one Christmas tree in all the world that seemed like one of the family, only to see it neglected and carted off where all good Christmas trees go?
Why did I look for hours for just the right doll which in a few hours was to become a double amputee?
Why make another trip to "Friendly Bob Adams" and add another coupon to that ever-increasing library?
Why sweat and work all year to pay for a toy seldom used that soon becomes jealous because the baby gives its box more attention?
As I sit here tonight wondering about the month left at the end of the money, why was I such a soft touch?
Why the bicycle, the ball, the games, the candy, and the dress that didn't fit! Why did I stay up so late Christmas Eve putting "Tab A" in "Slot B," and trying to put two left peddles on a bike I couldn't afford as I fought gallantly to keep from backsliding because they put in the train box the instructions for how to assemble an electric razor.
Why, why, why? Maybe it is because I remember that yesterday I thought all other days were days made simply to get ready for Christmas.
Why? Maybe it is because I realize that tomorrow you will be grown and I will miss the misery of attaching "Part 4" to "Slot B."
Why? Maybe it is because today I love to glean every twinkle from your eyes while they twinkle for me.
Why? There are a thousand "whys," but they all add up to the truth that you have an awkward old dad who feels that maybe this is his best way of saying, "I love you."
I hope, dear ones, that you read the language and that you realize that as I tear off each coupon, I will say again, "I love you."
And now, Mr. Christmas tree, it's just you and me. You have fulfilled your purpose, and your usefulness is over. I weep with you, for I, too, one day will have ended my usefulness; and those who centered their lives around me find other avenues of happiness.
May I live as beautifully as you have lived, to bring joy to others, and may I end my days of usefulness with all of the queenly beauty and dignity which I see in you tonight.
And now I go to rest, thanking God that the One who made yesterday possible will never pass away.
(Written Christmas night, December 25, 1966)
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