A poignant memory came to mind today. It is something that I have never spoken about, or even thought much about, since the day it happened, but I believe God used it to speak to me today.
I was about 15 years old and I was helping front of house at a local theatre. My job included showing people to their seats and selling ice cream at the interval. I enjoyed it, and I loved being around the theatre, but what I really longed to do was to play in the orchestra.
On this particular night, the lady in charge of front of house was there as I showed the last audience member to their seat. She held the door for me to exit into the foyer as the orchestra tuned their instruments and the house lights dimmed.
As the overture began and the music filled the darkened theatre, I waited to hear it, and I longed to be a part of it. I didn’t want to be stuck on the other side of the door, listening and spectating. I wanted to play, to be part of the music, but the time had not yet come. Maybe in a few years I’d have my chance, but, for now, I had to stand outside.
Then, I noticed the lady standing with me, and the look on her face told me that in many ways she felt the same. The difference was that, for her, playing in the orchestra was not part of her future, but part of her past. I knew that she had once been a professional musician. Once she had taken her place in there, part of the music, but age and arthritis had taken their toll and she would never play at that level again. Like me, she was excluded, on the other side of the door.
As the overture ended, we shared a little smile and went to get on with our work. We never discussed how we felt but I know we shared that longing to be included, to be inside the theatre, to be part of the music.
It was impossible though. For her it was too late, and for me it was too early.
As I think about this, it reminds me of two ladies we meet in the Christmas Story.
For Elizabeth it was too late. She and Zechariah had tried for children for several years, but with no success. Now she was old. Time had run out. She would never have a child. It was impossible.
For Mary it was too early. She and Joseph were engaged but not yet married. She was young. For her, the thought of children was still far off in her future. Maybe one day, but the idea that she would have one now? It was impossible.
And yet, for God, the time was right.
Two angelic visits, two promises of baby boys, and not just any baby boys- baby boys with wonderful destinies. One to prepare the way and turn people’s hearts to God, the other to save and to rule forever, God’s own son, Emmanuel, God with us.
It seemed impossible. It was impossible… except that nothing is impossible with God.
It is never too late and it is never too early for us to play our part in God’s plan. We are not excluded by age, or by inexperience. None of us have to stand on the other side of the door, listening to the music but unable to participate.
God has a part for each one of us to play in the beautiful symphony he is creating- a part just for us. He invites us to come through the door, to take our place and to be part of the music.
The question is: are we willing? And I long that, when God gives me a task to do, I would respond as Mary did, in obedience and surrender, no matter how impossible it seems humanly speaking: “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” (Luke 1:38)