I’ve disliked “The Little Drummer Boy” for as long as I can remember. I know, I know, that’s almost sacrilege when it comes to Yuletide tunes, but I can’t help it. I think it has to do with the repetitive “Pa rum pum pum pum” or something. But for some reason, rather than turning the song off when it came up on my playlist on Christmas Eve of this year, I kept it playing. And then I got it. I really got it.
As the story goes, this little boy found out about the arrival of God incarnate, born in a cave in Bethlehem because nowhere else in town had room. Knowing that anyone going to see a king simply must have a gift, the little boy considered his belongings and realized that while others were bringing money, spices, and earthly treasures, he had no physical possessions to offer the King of Kings. He did, however, know how to play his drum. “I’ll play my best for You”, he told Jesus, and he did.
Much of our world seems to have little room for Christ, and even His followers relegate Him to a cave of darkness within their hearts at times, leaving the mansions and Holiday Inns of our souls for those less worthy. Then we realize our mistake and try to bring Him costly things to make up for the damage we’ve done. Meanwhile, the true gifts He has placed within us lie dormant, sinking into the quicksand of passivity and ambivalence.
In Matthew 5, Jesus tells those who’d just heard His sermon on the mount, ” You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.”
In her book, Faery Tale, Signe Pike writes, “When you have a gift and you stifle it, it will consume you.” The prophet Jeremiah said, “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.” (20:9)
What if the very way that God has given you to be the light to the world is the very thing you’ve hidden under a basket out of fear, laziness, passivity, or ambivalence? What if that figurative drum He’s given you to play is the very thing that will bring another wretch like you (and me) to a redeeming knowledge of Christ and to freedom? Will you be found playing your best for Him or sitting on a tree stump outside the cave, pouting over not having a gift to bring, wasting away on your rear end while others enjoy the company of the King?
Who says we need a new year to begin before we make the decision to play our drums for the King so that others will see the light in us and glorify Him?
So, what do you say? Will you join me? Let this be the day that you put on those ballet slippers, pick up that pen, take that guitar down off the wall, pull out that sewing machine from the attic, warm up those rusty vocal chords, dig out that 35mm, or unearth the language learning materials, and speak life and breath into the dry bones within you so that, together, we can become an army of light-bearers to an ever-darkening world. It’s time to play our drums.