Grace rested on my hip as a soft musical whisper poured in my ear: “Oooo, Mama, its-a Angel. I need to kiss it!” I removed the little angel from his perch. She kissed his head, then smiled and waved as I replaced him.
Grace began recognizing angels at less than a year old. She’s had this attraction to them that feels almost supernatural. When she was a baby she used to joyfully babble away and Doug would ask: “Are you talking with your angels?” I am not kidding when I say on many occasions after he asked that question, she would smile and shout: “TOBIAS!” So we feel pretty confident Gracie’s Guardian Angel bears that name.
Tobias or not, Grace is drawn to angels on every occasion. She wants to kiss, wave, hold, admire or play with them. I carry a set of pocket angels in my mommy bag, and often she will request their company. Her favorite song, (which she requests year ‘round) is: Angels We Have Heard on High. In the midst of this Christmas season she gets exuberant at every rendition. One of her favorite parts of the Tommy Nelson Jesus Movie is when the shepherds witness a choir of angels fill the sky to announce the birth of Jesus. Her love of angels is only slightly surpassed by her adoration of stars, which she often proclaims, “Show us where to find Jesus!”
Why is it that when we are children it seems like Christmas will never get here? Then when we are grown there is never enough time? It is here too fast. Our hearts are barely prepared for the magnitude of this moment, but somehow all the other preparations get checked off with fervor. As the breakneck season of Christmas barrels by I am reminded, because of Grace, to look for the angels… the star… and where to find Jesus.
As I refocus my energy this season on stars and angels and the coming of our Lord, I ask how many of you know the story of The Littlest Angel? I’m a fan of the old school Christmas music—Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, and Bing Crosby. The Littlest Angel is a Bing Crosby classic. Without fail, every year, whenever I hear THAT song, it moves me to tears. Ok, so I’m a sap, but a few years ago I made an effort to contemplate why it had this power over me.
If you don’t know the story of the Littlest Angel it’s told like this:
An angel, only four years old, was playing with a box of trinkets from his earthly life. It held: A butterfly with golden wings, a little piece of a hollow log, two shiny stones from a river bed, and the worn out strap of his faithful dog.
The Lord announced the birth of the Savior was to come. All the Angels of Heaven brought gifts of splendor to offer the child. The Littlest Angel loved the Lord and chose to give his only possession–this little box. Sadly, his gift was meager and bear compared to the others, and he sat alone and cried.
Yet, of all the offerings, the Lord singled out the gift of the little box that the child had blessed with love. It started glowing that very night, and became the star up above… the very star that would guide Shepherds and Wise Men to the Savior’s birth.
True to form, this story illustrates our God choosing an offering of love over one of grandeur. At first glance it doesn’t look like much. If a child offered us such a gift, we’d probably peer into the box and pat the child on the head. While we might feel some appreciation for the sentiment, we’d probably think, “Gee, thanks— A dead bug and a couple of rocks… you shouldn’t have!”
But, on second glance, as I pondered why this song moves me, I found the gift in this story represented much more than met the eye…
A little piece of a hollow log— isn’t that each of us? We’re all just a little piece of a hollow log before we meet God and He begins to fill us.
“Though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” (I Peter 1:8)
Two shining smooth stones from a river bed— doesn’t that signify how God forms us? When we allow His living water to run over our lives He wears on us over time, reshaping us, smoothing out the rough edges.
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water.” (Revelation 7:17)
“Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)
“I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.” (Isaiah 42:16b)
A butterfly with Golden wings— We know what that symbolizes— our rebirth in Christ!
“If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The worn out strap of his faithful dog. That’s the one that gets me undone. Number one, because I’m a dog lover (in addition to being a sap) and personally, I think of dogs as angels in our midst. Dogs are loyal, symbolizing friendship and unconditional love. You know that no matter what, at least your dog still loves you!
But the thing about this item is the way it’s described— the worn out strap of his faithful dog. Doesn’t this epitomize God walking with us? He is our friend, he gives us unconditional love, and more importantly HE is faithful to us. The strap is worn out because it symbolizes that faithfulness. He is with us for the long haul. That’s OUR God!
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5)
“I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:15-16)
This Christmas I’m asking: What I am looking for? Am I looking for where to find Jesus? Am I fixated on the God who makes me new, smooths my rough edges, fills my hollow soul, and faithfully holds me in the palm of his hand? …Or I am looking for where to find the best price on the perfect gift?
Let’s be honest with ourselves, every year we lament how Christmas is losing its true meaning, yet every year we get all wrapped up in our gifts again. (Pun intended.) Really, aren’t all our gifts “meager and bare”? What are our gifts in comparison to the ultimate gift? For we know that truly, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” (James 1:17)
Recently Gracie was visiting her God-mother. They were admiring the pretty items in a catalog for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gracie stopped Tamara, pointed to a beautiful rendition of the Madonna and Child and said: “Oh, look at Mary. She has a special baby!”
And the Angel of the Lord said “Fear not, for I bring you glad tidings of great joy which will be for you and all people…
for unto you this day in the city of David a Savior is born,
who is Christ the Lord.