Monday, December 23, 2013

No Performance Necessary

Everything was going slightly awry at a Christmas program featuring preschoolers.

The little darlings had filed into the gymnasium packed with adoring parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

The old wood stage echoed as little boys stomped their feet in delight, to accentuate the noise their squeaky best shoes could make and sweet little girls stared downward at shinny patent leather shoes and each one took their place.

Our mini-man led his class onto the stage as all the little people took their places for introductions. He was trying to be bold and big, but you could tell his bravery was waning as he nonchalantly stretched over to touch the frame of the stage.

His merry little red sweater blended in with the towering red curtain, but looked great with his head of white-blond hair. The teacher coaxed the squirming line of three and four-year-olds toward center-stage to solve the problem.

After a few rousing songs complete with fun actions, (which some children even remembered) other children filed in to sing as a group and our little man found himself  four rows high, perched on the top riser, on the far left side.

From that vantage point he scoured the audience for those he knew loved him.

And we were there.

JQ and I were not the least bit afraid to make fools of ourselves, waving our encouragement from the audience. His Grandpa Irv, Grandma NaNae and Great Grandpa were there joining in the happy glory that only children can awaken in hearts.

He stood proud, like a little soldier with his freshly spiked hair and baby blues.

The girl beside him was so sweet and swayed nervously, almost losing her balance, flashing an occasional shy smile, but never singing. The little dude with the red zig-zag bow tie was too cool for this much school.

Proud parents with high hopes and plans for their wee ones, lined the walls and center isle of the auditorium, jockeying for a better position to capture their tots with hand-held technology. Some waved high the latest, greatest phones and others had foot-long lens, that looked like they could capture every wisp of out-of-place hair.

Grandparents waved with abandon every time their adored offspring remotely looked their way. And when a child would connect with someone in the audience that they knew loved them, they waved wild and often blurted out greetings, forgetting their lines or hand motions or the fact they teetered on a narrow step.

Mothers and fathers impatiently hushed bored siblings who fussed over the uncomfortable folding chairs, babies cried because they can and general chaos abounded.

The acoustics were bad, children on stage sang when they remembered, off-key or with squeaky bursts and waves. 

The whole affair was mostly a wiggly, wailing, waving, stage-struck mess.

But for those of us who loved them, it was pure unrestrained joy.

Not because the performance was noteworthy, but because of who they were and who they belonged to.

I don’t even remember what songs they sang, but I remembered the blue-eyed boy running into his daddy arms after the performance, with complete abandon.

It didn't matter if they made their stars twinkle to the tempo, wore their frilly skirts over their heads or stood motionless through every moment of illustrious stardom.

They were loved and adore children.

That’s how the Father see us.

We are His beloved children.

Every single messed-up one of us.

He longs for us to hold out our clenched hands so He can cup us, in His.

The hands that spun the world into being, are the very hands that wrote of His love for us in Jeremiah 29:11.

Those verses talk of the thoughts that God the Father, thinks toward us.

God, thinks thoughts toward you. Not that person who you believe has it all together.

That person doesn't exist.

Every single one of us who don’t sing on tune, trip while everyone is watching, or say the wrong things.

He adores us.

All the noise and messy going, doing and being is sifted through the filter of His perfect symphony of redeeming grace.

He is ever stretching to see us, cheering us on, waiting, watching, and longing to embrace us.

He is for you.  

His plans are to bless you.

He is captured by our image and we were made in the very image of Him.

The message of Christmas is that we are a mess and needed a God that isn't afraid to embrace the untidiness of us all.

Jesus is really Real.

He is not some feel-good, abstract, ominous, vague god of our imaginations making.

He is the brilliance that invades all dark places, omnipresent God who spoke the world into being.  He knows the number of hairs on your head right now and has thoughts and plans for you.

He is the humble Son of God who stepped down from His Throne, to lay down His glory for a short time, to defeat the power and sin and death forever.

Those children!

We came to snatch a glimpse of their beautiful, bright-eyed faces, slicked back hair and bestest-ever Christmas outfits and walked away with tender, humorous moments and memories.

And my heart was reminded that the Father loves you and me like that.

No performance necessary.

He adores you.

Nothing we do can hinder His love for us or change the plans He has to bless us.

His Name is called Emmanuel

God with us.

Merry Christmas!

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© Rhonda Quaney