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