The Value of Everyone: Notes to everybody who feels some kind of way

To whoever has chosen to read this: PLEASE READ THE WHOLE THING. Do not read part of it and get angry thinking that I am taking one side or another. I ask that you please remember the title of my blog, Common Subjects, Uncommon View. This story isn’t new, but my view might be.

 

Last night was full of tears. This morning was filled with even more. To be honest I did not go to bed until nearly 4 o’clock because I just couldn’t sleep. I was trying to comprehend the situation and look at it through the eyes of Jesus. When I did that I began to realize something. We have a situation in which two sides seem to be pitted against one another. On one hand there are those who feel oppressed and unheard, dying to be recognized by those who do not face the same circumstances. But those who do not face the same circumstances are not necessarily their oppressors. They are simply not oppressed and trying to maintain what they see as the status quo. But that status quo is changing, but not many people can see that. See the voices of the oppressed seek to be heard so that there may be peace and love. The voices of those not oppressed also seek to be heard as they seek peace. What has happened, instead of listening to each other and trying to find peace together, is our society has created an “us against them” mentality that continues to breed violence, hatred, and mistrust. The sooner we get to the same side the better. The goal should not be to end the killing of suspects or to keep every cop alive, those goals are one sided. The goal should to be to have a system that delivers justice while protecting both civilians and officers. This is the kind of goal that can unite everyone. It is a goal that says I don’t want peace just for those with whom I can identify; I want peace and safety for everyone, even those with whom I cannot identify or understand.

 

This morning on the news there was a video released showing a cop as he was gunned down on the sidewalk last night. That video shocked me and brought me to tears. I saw officers running towards the sound of gunfire protecting innocents and rushing to save colleagues. I an officer go from standing to down on his knees crying at the news of another officer dying. The tears flowed. But you know what else made tears flow? The videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. If I’m honest I can’t watch any of those videos more than once. That’s death y’all. That’s the real deal. No movie make up or special effects. Families are being broken. And who are we to judge whether they deserved to be shot? Are we God? Heck we aren’t even on a jury. People are losing blood and their lives, and that should mean something. Yet we have found ways to make them mean nothing.

 

To the families of those who have lost loved ones to police actions, I grieve for you and am sorry for your loss. Circumstances of a death rarely make it less tragic but can often magnify the pain. Hopefully I will never have to send my son or daughter out into the world and wonder if they will be shot over a misperception.  My prayers are with you, and I want to help. Know that their life means something. Change will not happen fast. For that I am also sorry. But I pray that it happens soon. Tomorrow will be another day filled with the same dangers, but I pray that it might be a little safer and you are a little stronger.

 

To the families of the police officers across the nation, thank you for your sacrifice. I cannot imagine the anxiety of watching a spouse or parent walk out of the house on a daily basis knowing that they might not come home. And to those who have lost a family member or friend in the line of duty, I cannot imagine the strength you must need to answer that phone or watch the officers walk to your door to deliver the news. My prayers are with you and I want to help. Know that their life means something. In the coming days those of you who still have loved ones serving will have even more pain and anxiety. They are targeted, wanted individuals, simply for wearing the badge, yet they do not back down. They are heroes.

 

To the law enforcement community, thank you for what you do. I know that the vast majority of you would lay down your life for me or the other 321 million people in the US. Most of you are not out to play God or execute a personal agenda. So thank you. Special thanks to the Dallas and Federal officers that rushed to the scene where their comrades had been shot and risked their lives to protect total strangers. There may be bad cops out there but I didn’t see any tonight (last night). Each and everyone one of you deserves a massive hug from everyone, not only to commend your bravery, but to console you on the loss of your friends. It is (was) a night full of tragedy but your actions to protect and serve were massive lights in the darkness. That being said every profession has some bad apples, and I ask you good apples to help root out the others. With as seriously as most of you take your jobs I’m sure this won’t be hard.

 

To the men who died last night, though you will never read this, thank you for your service and sacrifice.

 

To those who survived their wounds, get well soon.

 

To those who feel oppressed by the system, fear police, and/or have lost a loved one to police action, I am sorry that I cannot fully comprehend your position and neither can millions of others. We do not know what it is like to live your life. Though we may try we simply don’t know. That being said I want you to know that your voice matters, and there are people out here who want to listen to you. They want to help. But by that same token, many have been driven away by your rhetoric and actions. Protesting is fine. But shutting down highways, having chants based on lies (hands up, don’t shoot), and demanding dead cops is not. There are police and politicians who see the same injustice that you do and they want to help. But when you verbally or physically attack those who you are asking to change, things won’t go well. Think about this. Jesus was the most perfect unarmed man to be killed by law enforcement. Yet he did not resist nor did He slander the men killing Him. He knew that change would come and that His kingdom of love would reign. In the meantime, he simply showed love and grace as He asked God the Father to forgive his killers (Luke 23:34). He fought violence with nonviolence.

 

To those who do not know what it is like to be oppressed or fear police, please try to understand the fears of others. If you are like me, you have had very few run ins with police, the ones that you have had have been pleasant and respect was a two way street. With interactions like that it is easy to back the blue, and your voice in saying that matters. At the same time, try to understand someone who does not see police the way you do. Even if you can’t, at least acknowledge that their fear is legitimate and that they don’t need facts to rationalize their fear. Fear is not always rational but it almost always based on some truth. Whether it comes from a bad experience or a simple fear of the unknown, fear cannot always be explain with facts and numbers. Do we ask children to explain why they are afraid of the dark? When their answer is not acceptable because monsters don’t live in closets, do we turn the light off and close the door saying there’s nothing to be afraid of? Absolutely not. We walk around the room, open the closet, check under the bed, and then leave a night light to comfort the child. We show them that we care and are willing to do extra so that they feel safe. So it is then our job to listen to the oppressed and do the same for them. We must do our best to try and comprehend what we are being told. But from there it is not enough to simply agree. Martin Luther King Jr. made a statement that parallels Jesus’ comments in Revelation 3:15-16, “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” If we find that monster there needs to be action.

 

That being said, if you feel oppressed and someone has done this for you by checking the facts, enacting changes, and studies show things are getting better, don’t hold on to the past. You can look how far we’ve come and continue to push for even better practices. What you cannot do is continue to harp on the past that many people played no part in. Yes the system was there, but if the system is changing why are you stuck in the past?

 

To everyone, it is time that we end this war. We need to stop labeling the people that we disagree with as “misguided and racist,” because when we do, we only “[widen] the racial divide and [block] the path to understanding” (Obama speech Mar. 2008). All of us have our own valid opinions that carry the same weight as everyone else’s. So instead of quarreling, let us remove the wool from our eyes and realize that we cannot deem societal changes to be mutually exclusive. Just because someone supports an activist group concerned with the killing of unarmed black men, does not mean that they cannot also support police officers. In fact, as Christians we are called to love and support both. Personally, I do not want to see a young black man die any more than I want to see a white cop die. Yet society has begun to tell me that I need to choose, and that I must value one life more than the other because they both cannot hold value simultaneously. That’s a load of bull.

 

I don’t care who you are, your life always means something. It should mean something to me and to everyone else on the earth, because, more importantly, it means something to God above. We are all created in his image (Genesis 1:27). So when we fail to see the tragedy of the death of someone who doesn’t look like us then we are spitting in the face of God. We are effectively telling Him that we do not think He did a good enough job when he created that person. We are saying that their life was a waste and should simply be forgotten about. Is that what we want to say? Do we want to elevate ourselves to such a high pedestal that we are telling God that He can do better? The most unfortunate thing is that this happens from both sides. It is time to stop. It is time to value life as a gift from above and work towards a solution that keeps everyone safe.

 

It is not enough to only want safety and protection for those who we think deserve it. That is attitude of someone with too much pride and not enough love and grace. How do we determine who is worthy of what? Are we claiming to be better than others and thus worthy to judge their worth based on actions or deeds? Heavens no. “For all have sinned and fallen sort of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That means we are all equal sinners in need of a savior. We need the grace, mercy, and love of Jesus and we need to share it with others. So let us “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9). When we lay down our pride and submit to God and to one another we allow God to work through us and enact that change that sees everyone safe and protected.

 

Last night and today, all I wanted to do was to write, to draft, to find a way to tell the people of this nation that they are loved, and also that they are important. But that time is over and I believe that now there is much more to do. There is more to this than to tell someone that you love them. Love is an action and not a feeling. It is not enough to offer condolences over the airwaves or pray in the comfort of our own homes. There are people in this nation who do not feel safe, and there are others whose professions are under attack. Both groups need our help and helping one does not mean you are alienating the other or telling them that they are valued less. Instead of choosing sides, let us follow what Paul told the church in Galatia and, “Bear on another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Go march with someone who is grieving and cook dinner for someone who lost a spouse in the line of duty. Don’t do just one. Do both. No matter what your opinion is the facts remain the same. People are dying. People are grieving. People need the love of Christ and it is our job to bring it to them.

 

This is no longer a time for words. It is a time for action. The Sunday school answer about loving our neighbor is no longer acceptable. This world needs Christians and it needs us now. In this specific instance both sides of the issue need us to be involved in getting everyone on the same side so there no longer is a divide. It is not enough to have two sides come to an agreement but still stand on opposite sides. There need to be cops marching in protests and activists serving donuts. Some lady that marched last night was on the news today and talked about how she will be going to the funeral of the officers killed. She wants to show her kids that there are not two sides of society. We all must live, work, and exist together. We do not have to be the same or agree on everything, but we must love one another. Just because someone wants accountability for police actions does not mean that they hate cops. Just because someone backs the blue does not mean that they think black lives don’t matter. There needs to be an end to violence. There needs to be an end to “us against them.” There needs to be a world filled with Christians not just praying, but acting and showing God’s love to everyone in this world because everyone matters and no one’s death should mean nothing.

From Bullied to Judgmental and Beyond (Part 2)

Everyone has a story and a reason to be loved. That is the second lesson that I learned from being bullied ad then being judgmental. See no one can earn this right and no human being gave it to them. The fact is: God made every single human being on the face of the earth in His image and He loves them. That fact alone is enough to make us want to love each other no matter what. But what does that love look like? How can we love the person who cut is off on the highway, someone who is nothing like us, the person who is on the complete opposite side of the political aisle, or even someone trying to kill us? Simple but not easy. We should take after the single greatest representation of love, Jesus on the cross.

 

There comes a point when being bullied or without friends that one tries to find their worth in things besides people and friends. Unfortunately many people can’t even find that and instead find themselves worthless and thus deem themselves unworthy to live. Is that their fault? Some people would say yes. I say no. As a Christian it is literally my duty to tell everyone how much they are loved by Christ and how worthy they are to live. Christ died to give them that worth. Christ died so that everyone might serve a purpose and have value in the kingdom of the Lord. So we should act like it. I’m not talking like acting like we are entitled. I’m talking about acting in ways that treat others like they are entitled.

 

Think back to the last time someone cut you off while driving. Were they on their phone? Perhaps they were just not paying attention. Now think about how you reacted. Did you scream to no avail at your windshield? Or maybe you flipped them the bird and commented on how they are such a terrible driver even though you only saw a snap shot of their life of driving. Where is the love? Where is the grace? We have all cut someone off before, hopefully not on purpose just to make their day worse. I know I have been late, not paying attention, or just been in too much of a hurry and cut a few people off in my time behind the wheel. Jesus has grace for that, and we should too.

 

Too often we set ourselves above Jesus and think that others don’t deserve our grace, patience, or love. We get mad at the driver who cut us off saying they should have left sooner to not be late or maybe should have paid more attention in driving school. We get upset at the person taking forever in line at the grocery store because they can’t figure out how to use the keypad for their credit card.

 

Yet we rarely know their story. We don’t know if maybe they’re late to a family emergency or maybe just having a bad day. Perhaps that phone call is a stressed out daughter or son who is struggling being away at college. Maybe they’ve used cash for years and are paying by card for the first time. There are endless scenarios for endless situation in which people could benefit from our patience and grace. Some are farfetched and some are more reasonable. But even if there is no reasonable excuse, what does getting angry and having no grace do? We are still called to love and forgive even if the other person has no idea what they have done. Jesus does not call us to be loved or forgiven. We are called to love (John 13:34-35) and forgive (Matthew 18:21-22). He gave us grace abundantly so that we can share it with the world (1 Timothy 1:12-15).

 

As someone who often felt bullied and judge I came to know firsthand that there is always a story behind why someone does what they do. Even if that thing is a mistake or quirk, it is more than likely that I have something similar or probable even worse that others give me grace for. So who am I to lose my cool or be frustrated with them because they do something that I don’t understand or perhaps even disagree with?

 

Jesus had love, compassion, forgiveness, and grace for the men who put Him to death on the cross. He knew that they had no idea what they were doing or why, yet he still forgave them (Luke 23:34). His life was being ended, yet he loved the men who were killing Him. That is the kind of love we need in the world today. We live in a time where people call each other idiots, morons, and pretty much hate each other because they live different lifestyles, can’t agree on small issues, or one of them simply can’t remember to take out the trash. People make things too personal. They think others are out to get them or make their life worse. It is time for us, specifically Christians, to stand up and look to Jesus. It is time to be the bigger people and give grace and forgiveness even when our transgressors are oblivious to our pain. After all, in the end holding on to the pain and keeping a grudge only hurts us, not them. Their day isn’t ruined but our week might be.

 

The truth is we never know someone’s full story. They could be having anything from a bad day, to a bad week, even up to a bad life, and it probably isn’t entirely their fault. Many people will say that’s tough luck, life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, we’ve all been knocked down and it’s time to suck it up. Well I say it isn’t time to suck it up. It’s time to deal love and grace. Think about that one time you had a bad day and someone did something that just showed that they cared and understood. Maybe they bought you an ice cream as a child or perhaps a beer as an adult. It wasn’t a major deal but it was something that said, “Hey I see you’re hurting and I understand.” We need to do that with grace. So the next time someone goes off on you, don’t get angry back at them, something painful could have set them off. The next time someone doesn’t do their dishes, think about how rough their day or week has been and how tired they might be. It is time that we stop expecting people to live a certain way, do certain things, and/or give us the respect we think we deserve. Instead, it is time to give grace and show them love because we don’t know what they might be going through.

 

In the end it is all about having patience with others and loving them no matter what they do to us. Yeah there is a very high possibility that nothing is wrong and the other person is just being a jerk. If they are a brother or sister in Christ we should talk it out with them at a later time. But in that moment we need to lay down our pride and either go the extra mile, let them cut us off, or just stand there to get yelled at. Jesus let the Romans kill him so that we might receive the Father’s love, grace, and be at peace with Him. It is time that we do the same for others. Jesus said that, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). So yeah, the ultimate love is to die so that someone else may live. However, it is important to remember that this verse does not need to be taken literally to still ring true. Laying down one’s life can come in many forms and fashions. It means to sacrifice something in your life so that others may have something to gain in theirs. That could be anything from time, to effort, to resources, to our pride. People are different. People react to things differently. This world will not come to see Jesus if we as Christians get mad or upset at the people we encounter and disagree with. They are not perfect and neither are we. So we must love because He first loved us ((1 John 4:19) and we love Him by obeying Him and loving others), and then take the grace given to us and extend it to others.

From Bullied to Judgmental and Beyond (Part 1)

As someone who was bullied and didn’t really have a lot of friends from about the 3rd grade until sophomore year of high school I learned a thing or two about being judged. I didn’t have the coolest clothes or backpack and I certainly didn’t hang out with the cool kids on the weekend doing whatever they did. Instead I worried about people staring at my big ears or if someone would find my lunch box at the bottom of my bag, because apparently a metal Hot Wheels lunch box wasn’t cool in the 5th grade. With that, I became very conscious of everything I did and how people might judge me. In turn, I began to look at others the same way. In fact I still struggle with judging people today. Whether it is the guy tatted up buying Bud Ice at Walmart or the guy driving an old beat up Honda Civic with huge speakers and no muffler, I have an opinion about them, their life story, and why they were so much worse off than me. It can make me miserable, and it used to be pretty bad.

 

To be honest I don’t really remember when I started to have a change of heart. Maybe it was when an already tight group of friends let me hang out with them after my date ditched me at MORP my senior year. Perhaps it was when I became best friends with my roommate freshman year of college after we both weireded each other out in our first impressions.  Either way, God put people in my life to teach me two simple lessons: I’m not better than anyone because we are all different and unique, and everyone has a story with a reason to be loved.

 

To address the first lesson about me not being better than anyone I should reference my being bullied. See while I was never physically bullied, psychologically I was fighting a losing battle against other kids, myself, and the devil. Despite being decently athletic I wasn’t friends with the cool kids so I was always picked close to last, wasn’t invited to sit with them at lunch, and I definitely was not picked up with them in carpool to do fun things after school. Wow writing about that now seems so petty, but weird and nerdy little Chuck took those things hard. I saw them as signs of rejection. I told myself I wasn’t wanted by my peers, and the devil reminded me about it constantly. So I tried to fit in.

 

I tried to beat the system. In my mind if I did the things that the cool kids did that I would magically fit in, get picked, and have lots of friends. But as I’m sure you can guess I couldn’t beat the system. I was constantly reminded how much of a nerd I was, or how I just wasn’t good enough. At this point I realized I couldn’t beat the system but maybe I could change it. Surely I wasn’t the nerdiest, or the biggest goody two shoes, or the weirdest Christian around. There had to be others that were less cool than me. Indeed there were, and I made sure that I found them. I didn’t do it to prove to others that I wasn’t the worst. I did it to prove to myself that I had more worth than someone else. In my head I put others down, found their quirks and thought “at least I don’t do that”, and just in general mentally bullied them to make myself feel better.

 

Needless to say, my pain was only temporarily relieved. I did not gain anything. The devil was still there to remind me of how I didn’t fit in, even when my peers didn’t. But things started to change when I got to high school. Part of it was that my relationship with God grew exponentially as I really began to claim my faith as my own and realize that I am His child no matter what. The other part was that I found acceptance in a random group of friends. God placed Mackenzie, Mac, Ashley, Dalton, Emily, and Brooks in my life for many things, but the one thing that always stands out was that they accepted me for who I was, and there were no questions asked. I mean yeah I had made more and more friends in high school, even a couple girlfriends too, and those friend groups were awesome. But this new one was special. Here was a group that had been friends forever, and they just let me be a part of their group no questions asked. No judgement. (Also shout out to Mac for letting me dance with Ashley after I was left high and dry, true bro.)

 

It was through those budding friendships that I realized that I don’t need to build myself up over others so that I can feel like I’m worth something or prove something to anyone. There is no need to assume that someone else is dumb because they cannot do something that I can do or are ignorant about a certain subject. (Note: it is oaky to be ignorant because it simply means you don’t know that you don’t know.) In fact, that thought process has become something that I absolutely loathe. I cannot stand when someone makes fun of someone for not being able to do something. Now those who know me know that yeah I will make a joke if you don’t know how to do something that might be a little basic. However, right after I make that joke, I will do anything to help you figure out how to do whatever it is that you are struggling with. After all that is what Christ has done with us. Here we are hopeless sinners in need of a savior and instead of laughing at us because we don’t know the way to heaven Jesus shows us the way. He takes us by the hand and guides us.

 

I really wish that more people were like that today. In fact, that reminds me of one of my pet peeves: people who make fun of others in the gym. Whether it is the fat person trying to get in shape, the person who doesn’t know how to do an exercise properly, or someone who can’t lift much weight, not everyone is a gym rat. So stop recording them on snapchat and posting their valiant efforts and painful fails because it’s not funny. Think of the courage it took for them to come to the gym, maybe even for the first time. Everyone started somewhere, so why not go help them out and teach them what you know so that they can get started on the path to their goals?

 

Sorry about that mini rant. It just really highlights my point. We each have a different set of talents, goals, abilities, and tastes given to us by God, and throughout our life we learn things based on how we were raised to prepare us to do His will. That means that as a city boy I might not fix as many engines or ride as many dirt bikes as my country counterpart. But does that make me any lesser of a man or a child of God? Absolutely not. That is what makes me different. My skills are in sports and politics. That’s where my calling is. So does it matter how fast I can rebuild the front end of a car or do drywall? While I’d love to be able to do both, the answer is no.

 

But there is someone out there who could rebuild the front end of a car in a weekend and patch up some drywall on their lunch break and that’s awesome. That’s what they’re good at. Just as I wouldn’t want them to look down upon me and make fun of me for not being able to fix a set of disk brakes, I shouldn’t look down on them for not being able to kick a soccer ball very far. We have different skills. We all do. So let’s stop looking at our neighbor and thinking that wow I might be dumb but at least I know how to *insert task you think is simple* because to some people it might not be. We all fail at something, and when we do we would love to see a friendly face staring back at us saying that it’s okay and to not be embarrassed. No one wants to be laughed at and called an idiot simply because they were ignorant. We all could use a little more love and compassion. So go out and make a difference in someone’s life. Be there to support not to demean.

 

Now in closing I think that it is very important that I highlight one thing, well two things. First I will talk about the second lesson in a second blog post so stay tuned. But as far as the first lesson goes remember this: in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talked about how murder begins in the heart just like adultery (Matthew 5:21-30). In the passage he explains the new covenant and that you don’t have to actually kill someone to have committed a sin equivalent to murder, “You have heard the it was said to those of old, You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgement. But I say to you whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement.” That same concept applies to judging others and bullying them. Just like I mentally bullied people in middle school so that I could feel better about myself, when we think of someone as a lesser person for failing or being ignorant, we are still sinning against God because they are made in His image just like us. Also, trust me; it does not make you feel better about yourself in the long term. So to Kassandra Shands-Cherry, Harmony Tarrant, Braden Dunford, Ramond Motely, and anyone else that I bullied but have woefully forgotten, if you ever read this blog post I’m sorry and I hope that you can forgive me. You never knew my thoughts but trust me they weren’t nice and I’m sorry. To the rest of you, go out and be Jesus to the world. Be that helping and compassionate hand someone needs. Show others how to change a tire, and while you’re at it show them the way to eternal life: to the Father through the Son.

Christmas Music Made Me Cry

I think it was Tuesday morning, definitely around 5:20, as I groggily drove to work, that Pentatonix came on the radio. Now, I had never heard them before so I turned up the volume to hear them for the first time. Turns out they were singing Little Drummer Boy, one of my Christmas favorites. First let me say I was blown away by the talent of the group. I’m not a musician or singer but I love their sound, I was hooked from the beginning, and began jamming in the wee morning hours. However, it was around the middle of the song that I just began to cry. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. It was one of those cries that just started slow and all of a sudden I was just driving and wishing I had more tissues. No it wasn’t because Pentatonix is that good. It was because I really began to listen to the words they were singing. Many people they listen to a song and don’t really think much about the words. But I do. No matter how great a song is musically, if I don’t like the lyrics I can’t listen to it. That is why when it comes to songs about Jesus, especially around Christmas time, the lyrics are everything. That is what gets me. That is why the Holy Spirit meets people in the isles of concert halls and the drivers’ seats of cars at 5 am. Lyrics matter. Little Drummer Boy is no different.

I want you to do what I do. Put yourself in the song. Listen to the lyrics and put yourself there. You are a poor boy, going to see a newborn king, and you bring your finest gift, so you are standing at the manger holding the only thing you own, a little drum. It’s probably all beat up and its best day was a long time ago. Yet here you are, standing next to kings who have brought expensive gifts wondering what in the world you are going to do. You look at your drum, you look at Mary, you glance at the baby, and then you just play. The rhythm from your little beat up drum probably isn’t anything special, heck the animals are the ones keeping time. It sure wouldn’t be ranked up there with any of the greatest drum solos of all time, yet it is all you have. Perhaps the three kings look at you like you’re crazy. They’re wondering how you could come with no gifts and only a mediocre song. The shepherds think that even though they stink and stuff, they can at least offer a lamb or something. Then something crazy happens. That little baby in the feed trough, yeah the one who is supposed to be the savior of the world, looks at you and smiles. He approves. What?! No way! How can this be? How can this little boy approve of your meek little gift? The answer is simple. It is because you gave all that you have.

How absolutely incredible is that? I mean step back and take that in. Here is a tiny little drummer who has nothing to offer except his measly drumming skills, and the child of the God of the universe accepts it as if it were a symphony composed by Beethoven. Now I must pause here to say that this was not a true story. Of course it is only a song, but it helps to illustrate an amazing concept presented in the New Testament. Jesus even comments on a similar scenario, when he is teaching in the temple and sees a woman who put everything she had, two mites (about half a cent), into the treasury while the rich were boasting about who had given more (Luke 21:1-4). He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings to God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”  Pretty much she was another little drummer boy. Though she did not know that the savior of the world was watching her, she still gave everything because that is what the Lord requires.

Requires might sound weird there but think about this. Here is the God of the Universe, the creator of everything, and we have to bring a gift for Him each day. We have accepted Christ into our lives and now we’re on fire to live for Him. What exactly does that mean? It means that we follow 1 Corinthians 10:31 and we bring glory to God in everything that we do. Whether we are playing sports or waiting in the carpool line our thoughts, words, and actions should bring glory to God above. So, in practical application that means that whatever gifts he has given us, we must turn around and use them for His glory all of the time. That means if someone has been gifted with money they are not to spend it lavishly, but are to use it to make a difference by donating it, using it to travel and spread the gospel, or any number of other things. There are even people like me, who have been gifted with some level of athletic ability, and have been called to share Jesus with those in the sports world. But see the thing is it is possible to be like the rich men in the temple. It is easy to get to a certain point, say yeah this seems good enough for the kingdom, and then just give a little back at a time. You know just give enough. I don’t want to give enough. I want to give everything I have. I want to pick up my cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). At the end of the day I want to lay down so completely exhausted from glorifying God with my daily life that only a sleep blessed by God will be enough to rejuvenate me.

But sometimes we feel like we’re not good enough. Sometimes we look around at others in the world and think we are just inadequate. Sure we are trying hard but maybe we aren’t finding the success that others are finding, or we think we should be finding. I’m not talking only about earthly success, but also success in bringing others to Christ, shining for Him, and really just living the life He has called us to live. I know that’s me sometimes. I feel like I’m a failure at my life because someone else is succeeding in theirs. I begin to measure myself to the standards set by other Christians and by this world. Too often I look at what others have done, and I feel like I am not worthy to bring a gift. I forget about the poor widow at the temple, and that as long as I am giving to the Lord all that I can then that is enough.  That is what made me cry. To think that even in my darkest times, when life is beating me down and the world says that my efforts to being glory to Jesus are not good enough and that I am a failure, I know that I can look and see Him smiling with pleasure. He knows that I have poured my heart out for Him. He knows that I spent hours and hours working, trying to hone the talents he has given me, so that one day, when the stage is set, I might use those talents to shine His glory for all those around me to see. You see, these talents will probably not be the best talents on the face of the earth. Somebody out there is a better writer, someone else is a better speaker, and even someone else is a better soccer player (well more than just one someone in all of these cases). But you know what? No one else is a better me. No one can glorify the Lord like I can.

We are all a little like that little drummer boy. We are standing at the feet of Jesus with our beat up and seemingly insignificant little drum trying to figure out what to do. We want to give big fancy gifts like the three kings yet we cannot, and God does not expect us to. That drum represents the gifts and talents He has given us. All He wants us to do is use it. It will be rough and awkward at first, but He will guide us and show us how to use those gifts to bring Him glory. He will love it on our best days when the beat is sweet and melodious. He will love it on our worst days when try as we might the beat sounds like a crow’s cackle. He does not expect us to be perfect or to be able to donate as much money as Bill Gates, or impact as many lives as Billy Graham. All He requires is that we give all that we have, nothing more and nothing less. After all, our lives were bought with a price on the cross. That is a debt that we will never ever be able to repay. But what we can do is show our gratitude and appreciation by living each and every day with the purpose of glorifying God in everything. That means giving all of our effort, time, money, and life to furthering the Kingdom of God, knowing full well that we might not ever see the fruits of that labor here on earth, and that doesn’t matter. It also does not matter if anyone else ever thinks we are good enough or what we have to offer God is worth anything. At the end of the day, and at the end of our lives really, the only praise we should want to hear is this, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Then He smiled at me

Pa rum pum pum pum

Me and my drum