As I’m writing this we’ve just come through the 2018 Christmas season. I don’t know if you’re like me, but Christmas for me starts the day after Thanksgiving. I start playing Christmas music as soon as possible and at least start to think about getting decorations out and up. Then Christmas comes and goes and we leave everything out until New Year’s, but New Year’s is the official day at our house to pack it all up. The week in between seems to be an attempt to squeeze every bit of joy out of the Christmas season, but once New Year’s comes it’s time to let go and get on with the New Year! So, that’s what we did this New Year’s Day. We took down the lights, packed up the Christmas village and the little critters that play Christmas music and all the mementos, and put them away in our storage shed until next year.
About a week into the New Year I went out to the shed to get some tools to work on a project, and in a few minutes I began to notice I was hearing music from what seemed like a fair distance away. At first, I wasn’t even consciously aware of it, but I began to realize that I was hearing it as I continued working. Initially it sounded like an old ice cream truck, but I knew an ice cream truck wouldn’t be coming through the neighborhood the first week of January. I don’t even know if there are ice cream trucks anymore. What a favorite childhood memory when I’d be playing outside or even inside and hear that little melody. I recall when my kids were young how much joy it brought me when they’d come running to me wanting some money for the ice cream man and how I loved being able to bring them so much pleasure at such little expense.
But I knew this couldn’t be the ice cream man, and then I realized that what I was hearing was Christmas music and I thought, “Where on earth is that coming from?!” The project I was working on was immediately put on hold until I solved the Christmas music mystery. As my search intensified I realized the music was coming from the back of the shed, where a week earlier I had stored all the tubs and boxes filled with Christmas decorations. I recognized the music as being familiar, and slowly but surely matched the music with a battery-operated Santa Claus we have who sits at a desk writing a list of kids’ names and the toys he plans to deliver. It’s electric, and he moves as if he is actually writing. There is another rotary switch in the back of the base that, when turned on, plays Christmas music.
Having finally made the mental connection of the source of the sound, I then had the task of trying to find which box it was coming from. Of course, it turned out to be one in the back corner of the shed and I had to move almost all the tubs and boxes I had just put there a week ago. (Am I the only one who has things like this happen?) As I opened the box, the music jumped in volume and confirmed my conclusion: Santa was the culprit. I reached in and found the rotary switch and turned the music off, albeit somewhat reluctantly. As I did so, I had a couple of thoughts. One was how this toy had somehow gotten switched on (I still haven’t figured that out) and the other thought was wondering how long it would have played before the batteries finally ran out. It had obviously been playing for a week unbeknownst to me or anyone else. Here it was, stuck back in the corner of a storage shed, playing its little medley of Christmas songs for no one to hear.
I also had a third thought that is actually the reason I’m sharing this story. I understand this was a mechanical toy and there was no conscious decision on its part to play music, but I couldn’t help but see an application to real life. Sometimes we can feel like we’re stuck in a box, wedged in the back of life’s storage shed covered up with other boxes, and no one hears us or even knows we’re there. We can think we’ve been packed away and we don’t know if we’ll ever see the light of day. I realize this might seem silly to some people, but may I encourage you to be like that Santa, sitting at his desk, making his list, continuing to play his song even when no one notices and you think no one is listening. God hears. The world may have packed you away, but God knows where you are. You may have made choices that resulted in unintentional consequences and you feel like no one will ever listen to you again. But God does. He hears your cries in the night. He knows the hopes and dreams you are afraid to even whisper. God hears your prayers. And He answers prayer, not necessarily on our time table or in the way we would have supposed, but He answers prayer.
God makes the impossible possible. He redeems the unredeemable. He uses the vessels that others may discard or pack away. God plus nothing equals everything. Don’t give up on God, because God hasn’t given up on you. Keep singing your song. Keep making your music. If God is the only One Who hears it, that’s okay. He is enough. And He hears your song!
Keep singing your song!
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