Red shirts glittered and hair bows sparkled on bright eyed little girls. Short little men in plaid shirts and bright sweaters wiggled impatiently on the stairs of the church auditorium. The music swelled and one solitary sweet voice sang, “Happy birthday, Jesus, I’m so glad it’s Christmas, all the tinsel and lights, and the presents are nice, but the real gift is You.” The elderly lady sitting next to me reached over and patted my knee. With eyes shining with pride she whispered excitedly, “That’s my great grandson singing!” She didn’t know me, I didn’t know her, but what did that matter? We smiled at each other, and settled back to listen to the childlike voice settling gently over the crowd. I couldn’t help it, but her simple, spontaneous gesture of delight in someone she loved brought a deep pang to my heart.
In one brief second I saw myself, I saw you, I saw each of us, on our own small stage standing before our own audiences of family members, friends, coworkers, passing acquaintances, and the observing world around us. There we stand, singing our song to a crowd of watching eyes. My stage is different than yours. My stage is a wife, a mother, a caregiver. Mine has layers and layers of problems, small steps of victories, and a stained carpet of Grace. My microphone is different than yours. My voice is heard through the microphone of my temperament at home, my speech to my family, my attitude toward two babies of mine who didn’t follow the decent “rules of normalcy”, my brief influence during the casual interactions with strangers. Whether used or misused, my microphone is in my hand. My sound system maybe louder or softer than yours. Right now mine feels very loud. Big problems tend to create the opportunity for more attention. Opportunity yes, but some days I don’t want such loud speakers. It would be easier if no one heard me at all, if I just pretended the stage didn’t exist, if I hid away in my home under the illusion that no one could hear me. But it is actually here, in the quietness of my home, that my volume is the loudest, and the ears that hear me the most sensitive.
But my song? That is the real question. What song is my audience hearing? I know the song it should be. It is the song of Christmas. It is the story of perfect Love who came down from Heaven to enter my messy life. It is the story of the impossible tangle of sin, untangled by an impossible measure of Mercy. It is full of contradictions…My failures, God’s faithfulness. My fainting heart, God’s everlasting arm. My questions, God’s assurance. My desert, God’s garden. It is not my ability to sing, my faltering voice, the off key notes, the forgotten words, or mixed up phrases…none of that is the point at all. No, the point is that the singer has a song to sing, because the singer has a Savior.
A new year stretches ahead of us, our production on our stage will take place 365 days of 2017. Wouldn’t it be amazing if God, sitting in a quiet corner of our audience, could with eyes shining reach over, give the knee next to Him a friendly pat, and say, “See him? Do you hear her? That one’s mine!” Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone in our audience, caught our tune in their own heart, and hummed it all the way home?
“Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.”
(Blessed Assurance by F.J Crosby)