Now that the Christmas season officially ended this past Sunday, I realize that the only thing about Christmas I don’t like… well, maybe, the only Christmas song I’m not particularly fond of is… “The Little Drummer Boy.”
With most things, I gravitate towards the dramatic. I like things that carry weight – Christmas songs like “O Holy Night” and “Come, All Ye Faithful.” I also laugh imagining a kid banging a drum while poor Mary and Joseph are trying to soothe their child to sleep. I’d be embarrassed if the best I could offer them was just noise. I’d want to be one of those Wise Men – kings who presented only the greatest stuff to their newborn King. In prayer, too, I want to give God things that are really impressive and holy.
Yet it’s funny… The other day when I was sitting in chapel, the silence gave me a prick of humility. When I pray, I am often that drummer boy. My mind races, knocks on everything, and makes lots of noise.
This is why my mind was racing: Next weekend, a group of guys I live with are travelling to Chicago to play in a basketball tournament. My athletic skills aren’t quite up to snuff. Still, one of my brothers suggested that I come along. (Discerning and making decisions though usually overwhelm me.)
In prayer that evening, I was trying to focus on beautiful lofty things as usual. But I kept getting distracted, weighing out pros and cons of my trivial decision. Frustrated, I eventually decided to try talking about the distractions themselves and letting God into them.
“Lord, I want to go. Well, kind of. I don’t know. It’d be great for community-building… Nah, I should stay, get ahead on work, right? You brought me here to study, and it’s just basketball… But, still… it’s only one weekend away. Do you think I should go…? Nah, I barely know the guy coordinating the trip. At this point, I bet there isn’t any room left…” (Like I said, lotsof noise.)
But God was patient, always listening, silently there with me.
I didn’t know what to do. Inspired with childlike boldness, I looked up and told God frankly –
“I don’t know whether I’m supposed to go or not … If You want me to stay, I’ll stay. But if You want me to go, You need to make it happen.”
That was it. No second-guessing, no take-backs. All was in His hands.
For a moment, I was finally able to listen and sit in real silence. Then I got up and headed to dinner. After I finished eating I was about to head out, but one of my brothers came by and struck up conversation. We stayed for another half hour or so. By now, the room had cleared out, save for our table. I was again ready to call it for the night when I looked around and saw the captain of the basketball team walking in. He grabbed a bowl of cereal and joined us at table.
This past Sunday, we closed out Christmas by celebrating Jesus’ Baptism. The Gospel verse that stood out to me most was, This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased (Lk. 3:22).God the Father looks upon Jesus and announces this to the world: 1) Jesus is God; 2) the Father loves Him; and 3) He’s well pleased with His Son’s existence.
God is neither a magician nor a genie. He doesn’t make everything happen instantly nor does He grant every wish. In my life there are PLENTY of prayers God either answered differently than hoped for, didn’t answer at all, or hasn’t answered (yet) – all for better reasons than I can see.
But that night, after hearing me out, God answered my prayer. The Father provided for something seemingly insignificant because He loves His child. Nothing we give Him in sincerity of heart is ridiculous or petty.
Next weekend, I’ll be cheering on my brothers loudly and proudly, and I’ll be staying in the 3rdallotted guest room. (At our dinner table, the team captain said they just so happened to have one open spot left.)
… I don’t know exactly how the newborn Jesus reacted to the ruckus from the drummer boy. But I trust that as it was the best the boy could give, God listened, and He was well pleased to accept the gift.