Who are You?

"There are no small parts, only small actors."

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Somewhere in my elementary years, I delightfully encountered bossy Mrs. Armstrong and the motley Herdman gang of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. I remember feeling outrage as each unruly child bullied their way into the Christmas pageant roles, only to breathe a sigh of relief at the end as they truly portrayed their characters that first Christmas: messy and scared, but willing to give all they had. They might have been small actors in that play, but they definitely played a big part in helping that community understand the true meaning of Christmas.

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Recently, I was studying the book of Acts in a Bible study and we were looking at the lame man being healed in chapter 3. It's a well-known story of Peter preforming a miracle for a beggar who then leapt and praised God. However, the leader posed a new question that struck me, "What if Peter did have money?"

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You see, before Peter heals the man, he tells this 40-year old man who's probably been begging his whole life, "I have no silver and gold.." (v. 6a). Can you imagine this poor man's disappointment? He's probably hunger, thirsty, and just desires a few little coins to get him a bit of relief from his growling stomach and parched tongue. What if Peter did have a few coins that could bring him momentary comfort? Then this man would have been back begging a few minutes or hours later for the rest of his life.

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Instead, Peter tells the lame man what he does have, "...but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" (v. 6b) And, this middle-aged man who never felt strength in his legs before, not only stands, but leaps in the air, praising God! Amazing! But if Peter had a few coins in his pocket, this life-transformation might have never happened.

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What does "no small actors" and Peter healing a lame man have to do with adoption? Everything. You see, God uses all types of people playing different parts to take care of the vulnerable in His world. Sometimes certain people, like the philanthropist who donates millions of dollars or the family that adopts ten kids, feel like the big "actors," while most of us perceive ourselves as inconsequential.

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God used empty-pocketed Peter to work a miracle in this destitute man's life and God uses adoptive families today to welcome the vulnerable into their homes. Just like Peter in and of himself didn't heal the man, but in Jesus's name the man was made anew, so to adoptive families aren't miracle workers. Far from it. We are very ordinary, very sinful, and very broken. And if you don't believe us, ask our kids, who will happily account for you a long list of the times we've had to ask them for forgiveness! While it might seem like we're doing God's "important" work, we're really just being obedient to give at-risk children what God has blessed us with. God hasn't given us pockets overflowing with silver and gold, but He has given us a home, food, and the heart to love another precious soul. 

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But Peter wasn't the only one who helped with this miracle. It's easy to think that because of Peter, this man's life was transformed. But what about all those who put a few coins in his box or carried him to the temple gate every day? Even if a passerby just gave him enough for a few crumbs of bread, he or she played a crucial part in this miracle: those crumbs helped keep the man alive until the day Peter walked by. And that is just as important as Peter's role. Maybe less glorious, maybe less dazzling, maybe less awe-striking, but still just as essential.

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A sweet adoptive mom was just sharing with me some amazing news. She's about ready to bring her son home from China, who will require a great deal of medical care once he is home. She has a heart of gold to bring him into her forever family, but has empty pockets like Peter. She excitedly explained that a complete stranger is generously donating all the money needed to pay for his medical expenses! And this benevolent stranger didn't even know that she had wasn't sure how she was going to afford her new son's medical bills or that this is a miraculous answer to her prayers! The unknown person couldn't personally adopt this child in need, however he or she is being obedient to give and is playing an imperative role in one adoptive family. 

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So, who are you?

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Are you Peter, the one who gets to be God's hands and feet to someone in need? Or are you a passerby, maybe only able to give what you feel is a few small coins? Don't ever think that because you can just be a "small actor" in someone's life, you're insignificant. No, God uses the Peter's and the passerby's to accomplish His perfect will in the lives of orphans, widows, and anyone in need.

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My favorite scene from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is when the three discombobulated-yet-wise Herdsmans walk down the church aisle carrying their most prized possession: the Christmas ham. That was the best they could give and they gave it away gladly. So, whether it's opening your home to a precious soul, giving financial resources to bridge the gap between an orphan and a forever family, or helping in a million other seemingly small but meaning ways, play your part with what He's given you. Then others can stand back and watch with wonder and amazement at what God is doing, whether you're the lead role or the unseen stagehand in His grand miracle.

 

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