For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 NKJV
I will never forget his face. This little dark haired boy looking out the driver's side window of his family's van, yelling at me as loud as he could. "I just saw the Baby Jesus!", he yelled. "He's on the other side of the church and the angels and shepherds are there too. Hurry! Go look!" In that little boy's face, I saw the culmination of hours of work, and most importantly I saw Christmas through his eyes. To this little boy the story of Christmas was happening before his very eyes. He has just witnessed Gabriel appearing to Mary. He had seen Joseph and Mary seeking a room at the inn. He has passed the shepherds with their sheep, and had seen the angels hovering over them proclaiming the birth of a King. He had seen the Baby Jesus in swaddling clothes being held in His mother's arms. That night this little boy, who couldn't be more than four, had witnessed the birth of his Savior. It doesn't get much better than that.
I had been raised in a Baptist family who firmly believed in Paul's writings of what a woman's place was in church. I understood it, and planned to marry a Christian man who would be active in church and allow me to play a supportive role as his partner. There was just one problem...I always wanted to be an Esther. I would read the entire book over and over. "For such a time as this." I wanted that. I wanted the God who created the universe to give me a mission. I wanted Him to choose me to do something for His Kingdom. I wanted Him to use me to reach people...not just to stand back and watch.
One year there was no one to be in charge of the Christmas program, and our new pastor asked me if I would do something. There hidden away in the back of my mind was a drive through nativity. It was my personal gift from God. He had given me a ministry. I watched my church come together to make it happen. Ladies ironing costumes, while the men assembled the props. Children in their angel and Bethlehemite costumes, and older men dressed as shepherds. Older ladies making apple cider and hot chocolate in the kitchen, while couples helped each other adjust their costumes. Lines of cars driving through multiple times to witness what this night might have been like the night when Love was born.
And then it was gone. It was time for my family to change churches and I just couldn't let it go. Why would God give me the one thing I had always asked for, and then ask me to lay it down and walk away? He had allowed me to help my church create a new ministry that averaged a car every two minutes, and now He said to lay it down. Every Sunday my husband would ask if I had resigned, and I would look at the floor and shake my head no. Finally one Sunday after asking me if I had resigned with the answer again being no, he got a call. It turned out that there had been a collapse of a room at a local school. The room happened to contain several of the props we had used for the nativity, since he had helped to build them and could borrow them. I sat in the kitchen floor and cried. God was saying to let go.
I sat in a business meeting a few weeks ago, and kept staring at the empty space on the list of jobs for the upcoming year. It was for the Christmas program. My heart so wanted my name to be there, and yet I didn't know if it was me wanting to grab it, or God asking me to pick it up. I waited and prayed...and prayed....and prayed. In my head I can see it again. I see Mary receiving the news that she will bear the Messiah. I see shepherds by a fire surrounded by their sheep looking up at a host of angels proclaiming the best news ever given to this planet. I see the innkeeper shaking his head as an anxious Joseph seeks shelter for his wife who will soon deliver. I see Herod inquiring from the Wise Men about this child they seek. I see Mary holding her newborn in a stable. And I see my Savior now grown and hanging on a cross.
This year I will help my new church to come together and tell the greatest story that has ever been told. It's going to be hard for them to see these pictures that are inside my head, but I am hoping that they will join me in helping the world to see the Gift that it has been given. It won't demand much of their time, no practices and just one weekend. They won't have to speak or stretch themselves beyond their comfort zones, except to maybe be a little chilly for a couple of hours in order to tell the story of a Savior who went to a cross for them. I hope they all want to participate. I hope they all want to see the eyes of a small child looking in wonder as the story of an amazing night unfolds before their eyes....the story of the night when Love was born.