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Friday, December 14, 2007

Better to have a plan and have it fall apart, than to have no plan at all!

That's a philosophical way of saying my wonderful weekly menu has been set aside due to two surprise events: 1) The thawed out salmon for last night's dinner was bad 2) An unwelcome visitor came to our home called the flu bug. Seems no one wants to eat much anyway. So we'll push back the menu and keep trying.

On to a much more important topic. For the past three months I've been busy every Sunday afternoon with 80 children. Not my own (although my five can sound like a herd of 80 somethings). But with 80 beautiful children at church. And tonight is the fulfilment of all our hard work and prayers: The Christmas Musical!!!

A few years ago I volunteered to be the music director for the children's play. Not that I know a thing about directing, but I did sing in choruses for years. So I figured all I needed to do was wave my hands in front of them and we'd be good. The first year turned out okay and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. So I stayed on each year. I also stayed because we have a fantastic program director in Shelia Keiser!

And each year, just before the performance, I feel the exact same way (panicked), and say the same thing in a desperate prayer: Lord, if this is the season of miracles, and I know it is, then can You please find it in Your heart to grant us one tonight!

You see, every year we get to this point and I watch little faces looking everywhere but at me, I hear little voices singing the wrong words, I watch dancers tripping over each other and I wonder how we are going to pull this thing off.

But then something amazing happens on the night of the performance. God does work a miracle. It's not that the kids suddenly remember the words to the songs, or that they come in at the right time when I wave my hands around. It's not that the actors remember their lines, or the dancers are in sync. That sometimes happens, but more often it doesn't.

No, a miracle happens because 80 precious childlike hearts offer their best to Jesus ... and when that happens, God's showers His pleasure on those children. Then that pleasure overflows to all of us who have been blessed to be a part of the program and all those in the audience watching. The joy we all feel is truly miraculous.

From an outsider's perspective, the best that each child offers tonight isn't what the world might consider "best." Those watching the program will see many one who fidgets, one whose autism makes it hard for him to fit in with the group, one who will sing off-key, one who will miss his cue, one whose language challenges made it impossible for her to memorize half the words (that would be one of my little daughters from Africa).

Oh, but that's not what the Lord sees. I think He must look right past all that outside covering and go straight for the good stuff - what's in their hearts. And then He gets a glimpse of the childlike faith that must delight Him to no end.

So tonight I'm expecting a miracle - but not the one I asked for. I'm expecting a miracle of Christmas joy that's going to overflow from the heart of God and those 80 children, across the stage, down the stairs and into my heart! And my revised prayer is that same joy enters the hearts of all those in the audience and they can't help but fall in love with the same God who caused it.

With Christmas joy,


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