(Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year — have been hearing the phrase “Radiant Beams” a lot on the radio — from a verse of “Silent Night.” Wishing you all the joys of Christmas, and even though today’s story is sad, Christmas Eve is our best opportunity to act on our gratitude for the priceless gift of the Savior. So let’s do this! Let’s have fun in ’21 and shine like stars on the stage of life!)
Our 4-year-old granddaughter learned a bunch of Christmas songs and cute actions for her preschool’s Christmas program. I couldn’t go because of covid, but enjoyed the videotape. The thing is, she stood still, stiff as a board. Her arm was angled behind her. Her lips were motionless, as if they had 10-pound weights on them. This was odd. Normally, she performs enthusiastically. But it wasn’t stage fright; she didn’t look anxious or scared.
Her mother knew why instantly. The morning of the show, the child had played with a ridiculous blue plastic ring with googly eyes. She could not take her eyes off it.
Where did she get such a thing? Guilty as charged. She found it in the old toy box and GaGa was happy to part with it.
But the mother knew it would be a distraction for the Christmas program. So she strongly suggested the girl leave the ring at home.
By the first line of the first song, with her daughter a cute, but uncharacteristically silent statue, while the other children sang their hearts out and did the lively little actions, the mother figured it out.
The girl had worn the ring, anyway, but knew she would be in trouble if she got caught. So she did the whole program with her arm carefully tucked behind her. She focused so much on hiding the ring that she did neither songs nor actions.
Everybody laughed, of course, and hugged her close. It was a lost opportunity to sing about Jesus and the joys of the Christmas season. But she’ll have lots of other opportunities in her life.
The reason this struck me was that a really terrific Christian leader and friend of mine, Perry Gauthier, just died. He was 60. It was covid. Yes, he had a few health problems, but it was a horrible shock. It was the third close friend of mine who died this year, and for a third time, I didn’t get to say goodbye.
Perry had a really neat leadership development ministry. He would research, write and lead Bible study lessons for state legislators in Nebraska, plus all across the country and world. I was honored to proofread for him. I learned a ton and felt good about advancing the wisdom of our policymakers. I also thought he was funny and strong, a great example to the world of what a Christian man should be.
Perry would courageously take on the nasty, cursing, hostile, anti-Christian activists on social networking. His huge body of knowledge helped him rebut their claims that what they were doing was A-OK. Perry destroyed them with nothing but facts as well as gracious charity and respect. He was a great champion of the Gospel.
Many times, I would read the bold stances he took on Facebook, and would cheer. But most often, I couldn’t muster the courage to chime in and back him up. I sat back in silence.
I regret that now, very much. His work here was nowhere near done. Who’s going to fill that role now? Or will we go without?
So I mourn not only the loss of my friend, the loss of my opportunity to help him, but most of all the loss of his wisdom and character-building, encouraging words. What’s more crucial in this world today, than to know how to lead, God’s way?
It hit me that I was being like that granddaughter onstage – stiff, silent, and not putting my faith into action anywhere near often enough. Maybe I looked cute – but I was close to useless for the Lord.
No more. In memory of Perry, I vow to “Sing It Loud and Do the Actions” to draw people to Christ more effectively. Redouble my efforts for Jesus. Rekindle that fire. Grow in humility and knowledge.
Times a’wastin’. It’s Christmas Eve, Ground Zero for faith formation.
Would you please join me in the Song of the Ages – the Gospel? Let’s tell others all about the Bible and our Lord, louder and stronger and with passion and a smile.
Let’s throw our hearts into the “actions” that show we love people because He loved us first. Visit the sick, listen to the lonely, avoid needless strife, run errands for the elderly, pay it forward at the drive-through, donate to charity, help widows and orphans. . . .
Don’t sit back. Sing Out Loud and Do the Actions!
I think Perry would like this: you can still wear your googly-eye ring, out front for all to see . . . especially if it came from your GaGa. †
Feed My sheep.
By Susan Darst Williams | www.RadiantBeams.org | Christian Living | © 2020