Playing Your Drum for Jesus

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving… (Psalm 50:14)

I imagine that most of us have had this experience. We hear a word, a phrase, a song, or come across a smell, and we’re flooded with a series of memories. It can feel like time collapses, where the past becomes the present and the present is a reliving of the past.

I had one of those moments this week with Anna, my daughter, who died five months ago. I was on my way to the dump (I now live in the country), and I was remembering all the Saturdays when I took Anna for as many errands as I could find—a dump run, the cleaners, the grocery store, the bookstore, and an ice cream cone with her promising me it wouldn’t ruin her supper.

On the day I’m recalling, I was playing some Christmas music, and the carol “The little drummer boy” came on. The background for this carol is that a poor young boy was summoned by the Magi to the birth of Jesus. The boy wanted to offer a gift to the savior-baby, but he initially felt like he had nothing to give—he was just a small boy, he was poor, he had nothing. All he had was a drum, and he decided that he would play his drum to Jesus. Mary delighted in the playing, and the carol finishes with these words: “I played my best for Him… then He smiled at me.”

As the carol ended (we are now back to the dump run), I could hear Anna say, “Daddy, play the song about the drummer boy again.” She was about 4 or 5 when she once said these very words, and I heard them so clearly, so deeply, that I almost looked at the rear-view mirror to see if she was really in the car. I then pulled off the road to gather myself. Time had collapsed. For just a moment, I felt her presence and heard her voice.

Sitting by the side of the road, I began to slide into the dark vortex of grief and sadness. Anna would no more be playing her drum, living her life, making a difference, and engaging the world with her challenging exuberance. Her playing was over, her carol was finished, and there would be no more “Pa rum pum pum pum.”

God then did an intervention on me in two ways. First, I will give no glory to God, and I will not honor Anna as her father for the person she was if I stop playing, stop believing, stop hoping, stop loving, stop writing, or stop living. Even though I’m sometimes almost overwhelmed with grief, I must find a way to carry on with the days I have left.

Second, how dare I think that Anna is not now playing. I may not hear or see her playing in this life, but if I believe in eternal life—which I do—then I must trust that Anna is now playing with more health, peace, and freedom than she ever did before.

We are now only a few days away from celebrating the birth of Jesus. What shall we give to Him? What does He want to receive from us?

We are all, in one way or another, like that little drummer boy. We are all the little drummer girls and boys for Jesus. Like the boy in the carol, we may not feel like we have much to give—we may feel weak, broken, lost, ashamed, tired—but Jesus still wants us to play for Him and to play with Him.

The carol, again, ends with these words: “I played my best for Him… Then He smiled at me.” When we play for Jesus and live our life for Him, He does smile for and at us. I might also add that before we even pick up our drum before we do anything at all, He has been smiling at us from our very first breath. If we think we need to play well for Him to smile at us, we can feel like we will never play well enough to be a worthy offering. But when we hold fast that we play because He already delights in us, then we can play our heart out to His Glory and to our joy.

Reflection Questions:

  1. If you thought about being a drummer girl or boy for Jesus, how might your life be changed?
  1. If you remembered that everyone else is a drummer for Jesus, would you treat or speak to them differently? If so, how?
  1. Today’s scripture says, “Offer God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” How will offering your life to God in thanksgiving be made sacred?

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