Today at church we sang, “O come to the altar, the Father’s arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.”
As we sang, years of hard marriage and longings for good things I don’t have filled my eyes with burning tears. And a gentle voice asked my soul, “Is Jesus worth it? Is his blood really precious to you?” Tears broke over the dam of my resistant eyelids. “Yes, yes he is worth it. Yes his life spilled out for me is precious beyond measure. And yes I’ll lay down all that I long for and take your outstretched hand.”
Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Relationship with anyone is hard. Life brings pain and suffering. Attempts to escape end up being our chains. And in all our efforts as Christians to follow Christ, the question is, is Jesus worth it?
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” And what is that purpose? Romans 8:29 answers. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
God’s purpose for his people is to conform us to the image of his Son. God’s purpose for my life is to make me like Jesus. He may or may not attain that purpose through all the good things I long for. But God is going to use all the hard things in my life to make me more like Jesus. The question is, is that what I want? Do I want to be made like Jesus more than anything else.
If my husband never bends his knee to Jesus. If my sons never speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. If my home is never filled with songs and laughter. If my job continues to be hard and drain me of energy. If the ministry I lead never flourishes the way I dream it will. If I never get to do the things I long to do, but God makes me like Christ, is that enough for me?
1 Peter 1: 13-21 calls us to sober up because so often we’re intoxicated with ideas that aren’t reality. The truth of the Christian life is not that God is going to give you your best life now. The truth of the Christian life is that God is going to make you like Jesus. Whatever it takes! And so the question is, is the “precious blood of Christ” that has purchased my life and set me on a course of promised redemption- the final end being made like Jesus; it that worth it?
I want so badly to stand next to my husband on a Sunday morning and hear him sing praises to God with me. I so badly want my sons to walk with Jesus and experience his deep love for them. I so badly want to be fruitful in ministry and see my friends hope in Jesus with me. But if they don’t and if I spend my life loving them well, is Jesus worth it?
I’ve never seen this Jesus, but compelled by his love I cry, “Yes! Yes he’s worth it! Jesus is worth my life!” So, even if my life is grieved by longings unfulfilled, Jesus is worth spending my life loving these I long for well. To be like him eclipses all other longings. With Job I cry:
Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.[b] And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! – Job 19:23-27
And with the Psalmist I preach to myself:
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. – Psalm 17:15
I am so torn tonight. I’m on vacation, watching the world burn on Twitter and Facebook. The vile speech, the violence, the defensiveness and accusations… it’s breaking my heart.
I want my sons to be compassionate. I want my husband to be safe. I want my black neighbors and friends to be heard and loved. Words feel so inadequate.
Tonight I told my sons, there’s only one way for peace and reconciliation to come in this country… or anywhere. And that’s through Christ-like love. Only love is stronger than evil. Someone has to lay down their life for their accuser. Someone has to serve someone who betrays them. Someone has to listen. Someone has to bear another’s burden. Someone has to love their enemy.
Peace won’t come through me writing a short blog post. Or sharing other’s more thoughtful posts on social media. It won’t come through being defensive of my husband. It won’t come through trying to explain my point of view. It will only come if I am willing to absorb the pain and burden of another. If I’m willing to turn my cheek. If I’m willing to serve one who despises me.
Jesus modeled this for me. He’s the author of this kind of love. And he’s empowered me to live this way.
An online friend wrote on her Facebook today that she always wondered what she would have done if she lived in the time of slavery in America. She wrote, “Now’s my time.” Now is my time too. I’m white. I am very privileged. I do not take offense. It’s time for me to listen. I almost want to go where those protesting are, just to listen.
When you shake a cup, what comes out reveals what’s been in there all along. The global corona virus pandemic has brought out the suspicion, anger and conspiracy theories in many.
I’ve been thinking about why so many of us are given to believing or promoting conspiracy theories. Folks who do so seem to be self-proclaimed prophets with their memes and YouTube videos. Their practice is name-calling, blame-shifting, complaining and crying “corruption” at every news story or government decision. Their gospel seems to be, “Repent of being dumb sheep who listen to science and news. Turn and become suspicious! Watch this enlightened person on YouTube or take this alternative supplement or treatment, or follow the politician I approve of.” They peddle their own sources and accuse those who don’t agree with them of being gullible or worse.
Many of these folks call themselves Christians. And I’m not say they aren’t. My question is, how should the Christian approach news, disease, government and disaster? With suspicion? Anger? Blame-shifting? Slander? Pride? Arguing? These kinds of responses are not fruits of the Spirit. They aren’t Christ-like. They aren’t spiritual gifts. Those given to these practices should turn from them for the sake of love, for the gospel and for Christ’s name sake.
I have to begin by confessing my personality type would rather ignore all bad news and hide myself away in a convent somewhere, where I wouldn’t have to deal with people’s problems. My tendency to be passive and avoid conflict isn’t a fruit of the Spirit either. I am not here to say that evil should be ignored, or that justice should not be called for. I am not saying wisdom should not be sought or that conflict should be avoided. What I am saying is that scripture, Jesus and the saints who have suffered much worse than we, point us to a godly way of responding to news, government, disease and disaster. And it’s not passivity, nor is it to spread suspicion or promote a conspiracy theory. Ed Stetzer is right, spreading conspiracy theories is hurting our witness and is foolish. So when suspicions arise, when bad news comes, when you find yourself angry about what the government is doing, what should the Christian do?
Check your eye for logs. I’ve found that the things I’m most upset about, whether in my personal relationships, or in relation to the public or government about social issues or moral issues, usually are the result of my own idols, my own faulty way of seeing the world and my own attempts to self-preserve. When Jesus taught us how to deal with people we see error in, he told us to first examine ourselves. When the corona-virus pandemic began to impact your own personal way of doing life, your bank account, your health, etc., was your response anger, blame-shifting, suspicion? Did you turn to YouTube? Did you use God’s word to scratch your itch? Ask yourself why? Why are you angry? Is it because you feel your freedom has been taken away? Do you fear being out of control? When the news is bad, or the government makes a decision that imposes on your way of life, don’t examine the news, or the government first. Examine yourself. Take scripture, look at Jesus, look at other Christians who’ve suffered well throughout history and hold it up to your own life first.
Humble yourself. The book of 1 Peter is addressed to suffering Christians. The Christians Peter wrote to suffered at the hands of a corrupt government because they were Christians. If what’s driving you to conspiracy theories, anger, or withdrawal is your belief that the government or some evil power is corrupt and out to destroy your way of life, look to the folks in 1 Peter. That was their reality. “Even if,” is one of the phrases Peter uses to encourage married women in that tumultuous time to submit themselves to their husbands, even in that culture, even if their husband’s didn’t believe the gospel of Christ. “Even if,” should be our mantra. Even if our government is corrupt (Newsflash- it is. Has there ever been a government without corruption? Are there humans in power? Then there’s corruption in power), even if there is a secret society of power trying to poison us or oppress us, 1 Peter tells us, to submit to those in authority the way his sons and daughters do. We humble ourselves. We are sons and daughters of God. We are heirs with Christ. Nothing we suffer here compares to what God has for us in Christ. So if the government is corrupt and we suffer, let us suffer as little Christs (Christ-ians), not as those promoting suspicion, anger, rebellion, pride or slander. We will not be under corruption forever. The One who rules the powers we cannot even see will, at the proper time, lift us up.
Complain to God. When I find myself getting angry, accusing, becoming cynical or suspicious of those who’ve offended or hurt me I often hear this, “Sheila, your problem isn’t with him. Your problem is with me! Come to me. Bring your complaints to me.” I don’t think we do this enough. At least I don’t. It’s no sign of moral courage to lash out with complaints, gossip, anger or suspicion when we’ve been offended, hurt or feel threatened by another. In fact, we don’t usually even take our complaints directly to the people we’re offended by. Usually we take it to someone else, or social media. It’s my conviction that when I do this, it’s because I’ve lost sight of who can make a difference in this situation. The Bible describes a good and merciful God who is completely sovereign. If our circumstances are such that we suffer, there is freedom and comfort in taking our complaints to the one who rules over our circumstances. He may change our circumstances. He may not. But He will not leave us unchanged. He promises to use every circumstance for our good and his glory. He promises to redeem it all. So we should cry, “How long!” and “Where are you?” and “Don’t you see this evil happening?” and “What are you going to do?” We should take all our complaints to the God of the Bible and throw them his way. There is no conspiracy where God is. He rules. And we will suffer. But if we cast our complaints on him and seek refuge in Him, we can rest.
Seek Wisdom.The thing with conspiracy theories and those who promote suspicion is there’s a claim to wisdom that the general population isn’t privy to. It’s a secret wisdom, that comes from the person claiming the masses are duped. But wisdom in the Bible is never a secret. The personification of wisdom in Proverbs cries out in the streets. She’s on the news. She’s heard. She speaks and points others to the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is not suspicious, it’s, “…open to reason…” As we seek out what to do in this pandemic, submitting ourselves to earthly authorities, examining our own hearts, running to God with our concerns, we should let the spirit of wisdom guide us. And it will look like this, “wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:17-18)
Fight the Good Fight. 1 Timothy 6 there is a description of a person teaching false teachings when comes to the gospel. It says, “...he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions...” Although I’m sure that when I am given to suspicion, and when folks turn to conspiracy theories we may not be conscious of it, but we are spreading, perpetuating false teaching. If we find in ourselves a “craving for controversy,” it may be that we need to repent of being false teachers and turn to do the good works God created us to do. There is so much good to do. Even right now, with social distancing and in financial hardship, even more right now. The end of that passage in 1 Timothy 6 tells the man or woman of God what to do. “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.Fight the good fight of the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:11) There is a fight the Christian should fight. It is not over 5G, or the origin of the corona virus, or vaccines, or government structure even. Our fight should be to live by faith and in so doing we should be making disciples of Christ, not disciples of our personal beliefs about any controversial thing.
We are being tested. This pandemic has shaken our earthen vessels. And out of us has come stuff we need to clean out of our cup. May God test us, purify us and make us useful for his kingdom, overflowing with joy, even in the midst of sorrow.
I’m entering a new phase of parenting. I don’t know what it’s called. But I recently saw a video on a Facebook group for women over 40 that I think may have named it for me. The subtitle of the video from a radio show called Jonsey & Amanda read, “Being the mother of a son is like someone breaking up with you really slowly.” That. That’s what this phase of parenting I’m in should be called: The Breakup Phase.
My sons are (almost) 17 and 15. The 17 year old has his own vehicle and license. The 15 year old is passionate about motor sports and can be found either working on his motocross bike or riding it somewhere in the nearby desert. Both of them have exceeded me in height. Both of them have made it clear they don’t want or need me to hold them, be their caregiver, or watch over them. The nurturer in me has been put on notice. And this is what I signed up for. Heck, this is what my tagline has been since they were two. For as far back as I can remember I’ve been reminding myself I’m raising men, not boys. I’m raising men, who will leave my house, and my side and take to the road with Jesus, I pray.
I was twenty-nine when Connor, my almost 17 year old, was born, and 31 when Ryland was born. I wasn’t supposed to be able to have kids, said my doctor. I didn’t ovulate. And my husband didn’t want to have kids at all. So when Connor and Ryland were born, despite the prognosis of my doctor and the wishes of my husband, I felt much like Hannah and prayed:
I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord.For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him.Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord. – 1 Samuel 1:26-27
I was so thankful for the kids God gave me, and I committed to him that I would not neglect to dedicate them to him. I’d spend my life pointing them to Jesus and when the time came, like Hannah, I would leave them to him.
Leaving your kids to the Lord sounds right, but actually doing it is painful.
Dedicating your kids to the Lord happens in prayer and practical acts of selflessness from the sleepless nights of infancy, through the struggle with the terrible twos and threes, through the years of homework help and self-image confusion and puberty-controlled emotions. And through all those phases of parenting there are actions we take as parents to very intentionally dedicate our kids to Jesus. We, as Paul Tripp said, shepherd our kids’ hearts through discipline and hugs, and self-sacrificing of our sleep, time and resources so they can sense the love of Christ in us, and follow him for themselves.
But then comes a time when putting your kids’ hand into the hand of Jesus means, letting go of their physical hands, of their choices, of their consequences. And this means just as intentionally as you pulled out that children’s Bible when they were three and sang Jesus Loves Me with them, you now intentionally practice at the mind and heart level the prayer and faith that actually hands them over to Jesus.
The thoughts of feeling unwanted and un-needed and the strong urge to grasp for some kind of hold on your kids that might satisfy that need you felt fill with joy when they used to crawl in your lap and put their tender hands on your face and tell you, “I wuv you momma,” cannot win at this stage of parenting. Just like the urge to ignore their need to hear about Jesus when they were three so you could watch Netflix could not dictate your actions then. And when I say you I mean me.
The whole point of raising those men I’m raising (I’m not done yet), is to point them to Jesus. To place their hand in his. To launch them out into the world leaning on him, not me. And it feels like a breakup. But it’s not. It’s a critical stage of leadership, where the leader becomes a leader maker. And it’s that same stage lived out in motherhood when the mother becomes a woman in the life of a man she bore and raised, lifting him up, coming alongside him in the church, as he shepherds the heart of someone else to Jesus.
David and Jonathan shared a deep friendship. But when the time came where they had to part and they knew all kinds of scary things would separate their friendship, the Bible says Jonathan “strengthened” David’s hand in God (1 Samuel 23:15-17). The depth of their friendship wasn’t evidenced by their unrelenting grasp on each other. Their true friendship was evidenced by their desire to see the others’ hand placed in God’s hand, strongly!
It hurts. I’m crying a lot. And I’m sure I’m not doing it all right. But I am praying to the same God who heard Hannah and cared for Samuel, and heard me and has drawn my two teen sons to himself.
Please Lord, I am the woman who prayed and asked you for these children. And you gave them to me. From childhood I have dedicated them to you. They are dedicated to you still. Help me to strengthen their hand in yours.
I don’t have a “typical” Christian household in which to raise my boys. Reading the Bible with my boys when my husband is not a believer has been a challenge. But the truth is, even where both parents are Christians, the practice of regular Bible reading with kids is probably a struggle, if it happens at all. In another study byLifeway, among American Protestants, only a third say they read the Bible regularly. If only a third of us are reading the Bible regularly, then the struggle to read the Bible with my kids is the norm.
But I wonder if at least one of the reasons we parents find it hard to read the Bible with our kids is because we are shooting for some kind of ideal family devotion. I’m sure there are other reasons, like- it’s hard to get a kid to read anything if it’s not on an app or screen, and we’re all so busy going different directions that trying to get everyone together to read seems nearly impossible. But I believe God has given us really clear instructions that help me throw my idealism out the window without throwing Bible-reading with my kids out too.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
This instruction from God to his people helps me so much.
Catch this sequence: God tells his people to first have his words on their own hearts. Then he tells us to “impress” his words on our kids. That means we can’t just throw a Bible, or a Bible app at them and tell them to read it. We are gonna need to get real with them. We’re gonna need to talk to them. And many times its going to feel like they aren’t listening or don’t care.
I have two teen boys. When they were little, they squirmed and fussed and sometimes sat still and listened for a whole minute. When they hit pre-teen they were tired and barked at the idea of having to sit still for a few minutes so mom could talk to them about Jesus. Now they’re at the end of their high school years and they listen a little more attentively. Sometimes. And sometimes I can drag out of them some of their own thoughts. But most of the time I have to take away a phone because they pulled it out to look at Snapchat while we’re supposed to be hearing what the Bible says. Or they get up and walk to the kitchen for a snack saying, “It’s ok mom, keep reading. I’m listening. I’m just hungry.” To which I get frustrated and have, more than a few times, given up and stopped the “devotional” time.
My point is, reading the Bible with your kids and talking to them about what God is trying to say through what you read is not going to be a neat and easy activity for most. But that’s exactly how God said it’s going to be. “When you’re at home”, “When you’re out on the road”, “When you’re getting ready for bed,” and, “When you get up,” all involve everyday life interactions. And those are never neat or easy.
The thing is we just need to start. We don’t have to forgo talking to our kids about what God says because they’re almost grown and we’ve never talked to them about it before. We don’t have to take a course on theology to start either. We don’t have to have a candle lit, and neatly-dressed, well-behaved kids sitting in a circle with their Bibles and journals opened either (although I confess this, I would love that!). Really there are only four things we need to impress God’s word on our kids’ hearts, giving them a good start at spiritual health:
Get God’s word on YOUR heart first. Parents, grandparents… whoever you are raising kids, if you don’t take in God’s word and wrestle with it yourself, you’ll have nothing to give your kids. Spend time reading, asking God and other Christians your questions about what you read. Write down your thoughts. Confess your doubts or angst. Praise God for what speaks to you.
Share the above with your kids! The other day I sat down at the table while my 16 year old was perusing IG and said, “Hey son, can you put that down for a minute. I want to tell you something.” He put his phone down and gave me his attention and I told him I had read a Psalm that morning and it helped me because the person who wrote the Psalm basically told God, “Why aren’t you answering me? How long is life going to be this hard?” My son looked at me kinda blank and said, “Okay….” I got up, put my arm around him and said, “I just want you to know, God knows how you feel. And he wants you to talk to him about it. He is working through it all. He loves you. And I love you.” My son accepted the hug and said, “Ok, thanks mom.” That’s it. No big revelation. No hour long reading with questions and reflection. That was it. This kind of conversation can and should happen throughout your day. Every day.
Engage your kids. And require them to engage. I know with my kids, it’s been hard. They’re teens. They’re boys. They’re distracted by the screen that’s become a part of their hand. They don’t like to read. They want to go off-roading and build a bonfire. But notice this verse in Deuteronomy says impress God’s word on your kids’ hearts. In the original language that means “to pierce.” I’m a busy mom. I work full time, I’m tired. I have to fight the urge to let reminding my boys to read their Bibles be enough so I can relax and watch my show on Netflix. It’s going to cost you and it’s not going to be easy. You might have to tell your 5 year old to stop twirling in circles and look at you and listen 10 times in a 1 minute talk. But do it. The message we bring should pierce our kids. That doesn’t mean we all have to be Spurgeon, but we should seek to get a response of engagement from our kids. For me, with teens, that means I ask them their thoughts and require a thoughtful answer, not just, “I dunno, can we go now mom?”
Let the everyday things of life guide what you talk about from the Bible. This verse in Deuteronomy instructs parents to engage their kids with God’s word in everyday life situations. You can use a book or guide to engage your kids in God’s word. Those are good and helpful. I use my church’s daily reading or an app my kids’ youth group is using. But also, when you’re driving somewhere with your kids and a song comes on the radio that makes you think of something God’s been impressing on your heart from what you’ve read or heard taught from the Bible, tell them! Let the everyday rhythms of life be the fodder for drawing your kids’ attention to the good news about what God has done for us in Jesus.
Christian with kids, you have been entrusted souls to point to Jesus. Don’t let your idealism, your lack of Bible-knowledge, or even your busy life keep you from reading the Bible and talking about the message with your kids. Doing this is, as my pastor says, putting kindling around their hearts, that God will light it on fire for Jesus.
My family is making fun of me tonight because I’m watching, for maybe the hundreded-and-eleventieth time, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. When people ask me what my favorite of anything is I usually have a hard time picking one thing, but when it comes to movies, hands down, The Lord of the Rings series is my favorite!
Ending 2019 watching the Fellowship of the Ring seems fitting to me. In my heart I feel i’m living an epic tale of unlikely victory and bravery, uncommon grace and endurance, and unmatched friendship and fellowship.
I usually spend time reflecting on the year past, and praying for wisdom and help in the coming year. But tonight I spent a bit of time combing through a decade of photos on Facebook. Looking through all those images I see so much growth in the past 10 years. My sons have grown taller and more independent. Soon they’ll be out on their own. I miss the days of Legos on the floor and nap times. But tonight, while one son is with his friends, and the other has a friend over to stay the night, I realize a shift is happening.
In 2019 I was called into ministry to children and parents. I began to learn how to lead others. I started helping patients and their families as a case manager. My oldest son began driving, was in his first car accident, proclaimed his faith in Christ and was baptized, had his heart broken, and is trying to navigate the stormy waters of that transition from boy to man. My youngest grew taller and stronger and has been testing out the flex of his own strength. My husband began teaching and made our home’s curb appeal amazing. I wrote more articles this year than I thought I would, and I was a guest on a podcast about marriage. A lot of growth and stretch for all of us.
Part of me wants to shrink back from all this growth and change. I just want to pack up and go back to the shire. Adventures await me as I follow Jesus, and so does danger. There is no going back. My heart aches for a comfort and wholeness that won’t be found in the temporary comforts and deep joys I’ve experienced in life. But the times of safety and peace I have known give me glimpses of that shalom I’ll one day enter. One day I’ll reach the shire, but first I must press on in this adventure of following Jesus.
O Lord, come back to us!
How long will you delay?
Take pity on your servants!
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love,
so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery!
Replace the evil years with good.
Let us, your servants, see you work again;
let our children see your glory.
And may the Lord our God show us his approval
and make our efforts successful.
Yes, make our efforts successful!
Dr. Moore’s mention of the Christendom that I grew up with, where the Little Drummer Boy was the “carnal Christian’s” favorite Christmas song because it wasn’t Biblically accurate and repeated the non-churchy phrase, “Ba-rum-ba-ba-bum” made me chuckle. I remember hearing my late Grandma Oleta say her favorite Christmas song was The Little Drummer Boy, and somehow in my family that was interpreted by me to mean she didn’t know her Bible very well. But even as a girl, I secretly agreed with my grandma- I loved the Little Drummer Boy!
In Dr. Moore’s article he shared how he longed to tell the Drummer Boy, “You don’t really need to perform for him. You really don’t need some token of excellence, to make you worth loving, worth being here. You’re loved and received already. You’re adopted for life.” I understand Dr. Moore’s empathy with the Drummer Boy from that perspective. I understand that conviction and desire to receive from Jesus his un-repayable love, and stop trying to earn his approval. But unlike Dr. Moore, that’s not where I feel a connection with the Drummer Boy. Like the Drummer Boy, I am a poor boy too (actually a poor girl, but I digress), and I just want to bring an offering with my life, my skills, my weakness, my poverty, my child-likeness, to Jesus.
The message I’ve spoken to myself this Christmas season has been, “Bring an offering Sheila. Prepare an offering. The Father loves your offering. As little and ineffective as your offering is on it’s own, bring it. The Father will light it on fire! He’ll make it powerful and effective. He’ll receive it as an offering of thanks, love and worship and he’ll use it powerfully to draw others to Jesus.” That is why I feel the Little Drummer Boy beating in my soul this year! And looking back on my precious Grandma Oleta’s broken life and legacy, I think she wanted her life to be an offering to Jesus too. She felt her poverty, but came as she was. She wanted to bring a smile to her King. So do I.
There’s a definite danger the Little Drummer Boy, Dr. Moore, my grandma, me and other poor boys face- the danger of thinking we can earn Jesus’ favor. But if we check our stuffy, defensive, Bible-literacy at the stable door, and with the child-likeness of a poor boy who knows how to bang a beat on a drum, approach our King wanting to play for him; just wanting to bring an offering, we’ll march right past all that looming danger and enter the worshipful relationship we were intended to have with the King of the Universe.
All that to say. Here are the five reasons the Little Drummer Boy has become one of my favorite Christmas songs:
1. The Drums! There’s something visceral, soul-shaking; a ring of command, order, and mission that makes me want to stand up against all odds and march behind my feet-washing King Jesus all the way home when the drums play.
2. Bring your gifts to honor him. You and I could never offer Jesus anything fit for his Alpha and Omega-ness. He’s the King of the Universe. But like the Drummer Boy, we should bring our gifts and offerings in response to what Jesus has done for us. We should beat our drums, or paint our paintings, or sing our songs, or build our bridges, or care for our kids, or whatever we do, we should do it as an offering of adoration for our King.
3. “I am a poor boy too.” Jesus knows our poverty! He became dependent and poor so that we could be free and rich in his Kingdom. Come in your poverty. Come like my grandma. Our sins and the sins of others have robbed us. But we come offering our lives too the one laid his life down for us.
4. “Mary nodded.” Mary’s life tells me to pay attention to Jesus. To look at him. To do what he says. To treasure in my heart what I don’t understand but sense is way bigger than me.
5.”Then he smiled at me.” Poor boy or girl, Jesus loves you. He loves your childlike offering. He receives it as worship. You’re not trying to earn his favor, you just want to honor him with what you have. He’s smiling.