Once a year I find myself thrown into the crucible of one of the great debates of Protestantism. Getting the Christmas tree down out of the attic is easy, but getting it back up is something like one of the labors of Hercules. The steep stairs, the narrow opening, the weight and irregular shape of the tree itself and the law of gravity create the laboratory in which I test the doctrine of eternal security. When, at long last, both the tree and I are lying sprawled in our particular states of disarray and exhaustion on the attic floor and I have not lost my religion, the annual experiment is concluded and I can proclaim — in a voice weakened but not vanquished — that God does exist, and he is gracious.
This year, however, I decided that once the Christmas tree came down, it was not going back up. My days of testing both myself and God — at least in that particular way — were over. The tree would, I asserted loudly and often, sit downstairs, its pieces in a pile, until I could obtain a storage shed. Sandhill is not a large house, and I knew that it would not take long before the presence of a bristly green heap of faux evergreen became too irritating to endure.
Last week, after only four days of stepping over said bristly green heap in the dining room, I watched as a very large truck delivered a 10-by-12-foot prefabricated barn to Sandhill. The gentleman driving the truck asked me where I’d like the barn deposited. Having carefully scouted the location beforehand and having ascertained the spot of optimum levelness within reasonable distance of the back door, I walked briskly across the yard and, like Captain Kidd showing the pirates where to dig, declared, “There!”
He’d been gone about 15 minutes when I realized that I really would have preferred to have the doors of the barn facing the road rather than the driveway, a 90-degree difference in orientation.
I mentioned the changing of my mind to Daddy and, within a couple of days and not in the least to my surprise, he and Keith had a tractor hooked to the barn and were rotating it so that the double front doors with the big wooden X's on them and the two little windows on either side of those doors could be seen from the road. I wasn’t there to observe the operation, but Daddy says that it really wasn’t all that hard. It was just a small turn. And it made all the difference.
January is the month for resolutions, but, after seeing how significant that small turn was, it occurs to me that we might all be better served if we, like the little boy on the AT&T “It’s Not Complicated” commercial who got his words confused, made New Year’s revolutions instead. What if, instead of resolving — that is, re-solving, solving over and over and over again — we choose revolving? You know, like the planets. What if we finally get over ourselves and figure out that orbiting is something you do around the center of the universe and that the center ain’t us?
And what if we figure out that when you revolve — that is, when you turn, even slightly — it gives you an entirely different perspective? Turn the corner. Turn the page. Turn the tide. Turning turns things, inside out and upside down.
Turn around, and the shadow in which I’ve been walking becomes invisible. Turn loose, and my hands are free to catch hold of something new. Turn my attention away from the driveway that leads always to me, and I can see the road that leads to everywhere else. A small turn — it will make all the difference.