We sat at the table, my husband and I, as Christmas shoppers swarmed the craft fair. Their bags bulged with ornaments, and tinsel, and toys, and woolly winter hats. We watched as they pulled out purses to buy Santa earrings and home-made wreaths, and marveled at the creativity of those who can make such wonderful things.
Our table was not adorned with tinsel or trimmings. I did not have any fancy home-made Christmas gifts to display – just a simple book sitting on a red tablecloth.
But even a simple book can bring God to the table.
For God comes to us in the crowd as well as the quiet.
And God came…right there, in the middle of that crowded craft fair, at one o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. God showed up in the form of two wonderful ladies, a mother and daughter, who wandered over to the table and started to leaf through the pages of the book.
It’s my first children’s book, published by Zondervan! I explained excitedly.
It has eighteen stories- nine from the Old Testament, and nine from the New. After each story, there’s a little lift-the-flap letter from God, to your child- and you can write your child’s name right here.
The ladies smiled.
Do you have a lot of books? They asked.
I do, I replied, nodding, not really sure why the number I had might be important to them.
I’ll take eight, the mom said decisively.
And I’ll take seven, her daughter added.
I was thrilled! And I wondered who so many books might be for…
We teach Sunday school, they told me, and this book will be a wonderful Christmas gift for our children.
My heart sang. I picked up the pen and began to scribe a personal little message inside the books as the teachers told me each name: Dylan, Derek, Carter, Carly, Leah, Madalyn….
Wait a minute, the mom said. Let me check the spelling of her name. I don’t want it to be wrong.
I listened as she took out her phone and called home.
Honey, I’m at a craft fair. I’m buying these adorable books for my Sunday school kids but I need you to check the spelling of one of their names for me. It’s on my list…
There was a pause as the person on the other end tried to locate the names. And then I heard this:
Look in my Bible. You’ll find their names inside.
I stopped writing and lifted my head to look at this stranger I had only just met. The room was still buzzing with activity; shoppers were still buying; bags were still bulging; music was still playing.
But only God was there.
God stood, right in front of me, in this wonderful lady who not only purchased those books with her own money; who will not only be wrapping them in love for her eight Sunday school children; but who also took the time to write their names in her Bible.
And why, I ask myself, would she do that? If it wasn’t to remember those children each day; to see their names as she opens her Bible; to pray for them, and their families, their futures, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams?
Somewhere today, those eight books sit, perhaps already wrapped- I do not know.
Somewhere today, one lady’s Bible most probably lies open- but again, I do not know.
But what I do know is that in the middle of a crowded Christmas craft fair, at one o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, I met God- in her.