The “Little Drummer Boy” Christmas classic is my all-time favorite. The first time I saw it on CBS, I was in elementary school and I cried. For the past three decades I have watched it annually and it still tugs at my heart strings. Yes, “Frosty” was good, “Christmas Vacation” with Chevy Chase is great, Rudolph, was grand but nothing captured the GOOD NEWS of Christmas for me like the wooden animated drummer boy.
We all recall the “Three Wise Men” whom brought “gold, frankincense and myrrh.” It is true, they came with their gold and gifts and arrived with their pagentry, pomp and prestige. They indeed came from a great distance to pay respect to the Christ Child as they followed that Star pointing them to the Son. I love that old adage: “The reason the Wise Men were “wise” was not because they brought Jesus their gifts but because they chose to be in His Presence.”
Enter the Little Drummer Boy. Without a doubt, I am convinced that this little lad who was reverently watching in the back of the barn starring at the crib of Christ knew He was standing on Holy Ground. Not because the world leaders were “in the house” but the “King of ALL Kings” was present and prophecy fulfilled before his very eyes. In that barn was both Divinity and Humanity wrapped in swaddling clothes. A babe yes, but also a Messiah in the making with a message to save Mankind. Christmas really is a story about God and grace.
In one corner of the room we have the Christ-child, a babe with piercing eyes, rosy cheeks and despite the chilly elements a flaw-less face and smile that was wider than Israel. In the other corner; in the back, behind the crowd is a poor lad, with eyes the size of saucers, filled with awe and amazement; his cheeks covered in grime and a hunger in his heart that was too much for any adolescent to know firsthand. This little lad whom was dirt poor and quite possibly an orphan immediately found acceptance in this Babe but he had no earthly idea that Jesus from Heaven was a “Father to the father-less.” Ironically, the “world” had “no room in the inn” for the Christ child that first Christmas morning but Jesus made room for a poor boy born on the other side of the tracks. This is the greatness and grace of God. He always makes room for us to have a seat at His table. Not because we are so good but God is so great. This is grace.
This destitute drummer was in awe. Not only was not used to seeing Divinity and Humanity collide but he was not accustomed to seeing the world’s power either; much less the Lord’s power! Especially, not in the same room. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that deep inside we know we really don’t belong. The lad knew he was witnessing something special and I am sure that Satan, society and himself was encouraging him to stay in the back, remain silent and don’t embarrass anyone. He felt un-worthy and inadequate and probably believed that he had little to offer The King. He didn’t have gold or expensive gifts but he had a feeling that the King just steps in front of him wouldn’t mock him for his lack of gift(s). However, deep inside he knew that he needed to do something. When you are in the presence of God you cannot remain a spectator but we must graduate from the bleachers and become active participants in His Kingdom Work. At this moment, the little lad left the crowd and came to Christ. The lad realized he had a gift and thought: “Maybe I can play my drum for Him as an act of appreciation of HIs Birth?
Slowly, he eased from behind the crowd and ceased to exist and began to live and He played his beat up, broken down drum with battered drum sticks and played the best he possibly could. To some spectators it meant nothing but in Christ’s eyes it meant everything! God was touched not by his works but his worship. The lad truly “put feet to his prayers.” The drummer boy solitarily sent a clarion message to all; by boldy, yet humbly approaching the Almighty and he did what he did best. He played his drum. Surely, this was the biggest audience he had ever played. In the past, he played to anyone and everyone who would listen locally. He played to those on the street, those on the corner, those in the marketplace but tonight this young lad played before the Redeemer, royalty and even those in rags all rolled into one amazing audience!
Now he is playing before both representatives of earthly kings and “The King of All Kings” on one stage. At this moment, he is playing to eyewitnesses on Earth and God the Father, Angels and those peeking over the portals of Paradise. The Bible says: “If we are faithful in small matters we will be faithful in larger matters.” He played not just to them 2,000 years ago but this Christmas Season that poverty stricken drummer boy continues to play to us and his example encourages us to “play” our part in using our God given gifts in an act of service, gratitude and worship of our Savior.
If this young lad lived locally today; I am convinced he would have continued to “play” the same tune. He knew that the crowds may change but his commitment to the Christ Child would be constant and consistent. Regardless if he was “playing” in La Plata or Los Angeles, Dunkirk to Dallas, Waldorf or Washington, D.C., Solomons to San Francisco, Atlanta to Albany, Baltimore-Bowie-Boise or the Bahamas, Clinton, Maryland – Charlotte, North Carolina, Charlestown, West Virginia, Chicago, Illinois, Cleveland, Ohio, Cozumel, Mexico to Cairo, Egypt, from Fairfax, VA – Frederick, MD to Frankfurt, Germany/ Huntingtown-Hartford-Hollywood to the Holy Land, Jacksonville-Jamaica to Jummonville, New York-New Jersey-New Hampshire, Richmond to Raleigh, Tampa – Tupelo to Tuscaloossa, Miami-Memphis-Monterey-Myrtle Beach back to Maryland, Upper Marlboro or the Outer Banks; his music, mission and message would be identical as when he first starting playing: “Promote God and point as many people to Him as possible.”
The lad never really desired to be “seen” but he knew he had a message and a song that needed to be heard. Ironically, the boy had been playing his drum all along but on this night the audience was a little larger. The stage was now wider and the stakes were higher but he “nailed it” because he knew it was all about Him and because of God’s great grace.
When he stepped forward and played his gift at that moment “all eyes were on him.” But he knew that the attention was not really for him or a result of him so he continued to focus his eyes on Him, the Christ Child. It is true that when we promote Christ; He promotes us. God elevates those that exalt Him.
In the chorus of the “Little Drummer Boy” I love that line: “I played my drum for Him….ba rum bum bum bum.” My favorite verse is “The King smiled at me……ba rum bum bum….me and my drum.” What caught the attention of Almighty God and the angels in Heaven was when a dirt poor shepherd boy gave God all that he had. The song doesn’t imply that Jesus smiled at the wealthy, Wise Men bearing gifts of gold given to God but the song says the Savior smiled, Babe beamed, God grinned, the Lord laughed, Christ cooed and joy came to Jesus when the boy gave his ALL to the Almighty.
Just like the wealthy in the sanctuary who gave out of their “abundance, wealth and surplus” the Wise Men gave extravagant gifts but they still had more in reserves and they didn’t give their all. Like the widow who threw in ALL she had in the offering plate so did the lad who loaned his lunch to the Lord when God fed five thousand and this is true of the Little drummer boy. Something special always happen when we give our all to God. I love that quote: “God is not interested in our ability or in-abilities but our avail-ability.” What is amazing is that we are not only in the Presence of God with a front row seat when we give our best but we are used by God in His Grand Plan. We are partners with the Prince of Peace, Laborers with the Lord and soldiers/servants of the Savior. The greatest thrill in life is being a pawn in God’s Hand on His chess board as He strategically moves us at His leading.
Once we have been in the Presence of the King we are never the same. We are forever changed. Once we see the King firsthand; our actions change, our desires change and our reason and purpose for living change. I learned early in life, that we don’t have to be the best, or bring the best but it is imperative that we do our very best! It has been said: “Your life is God’s gift to you but what you do with your life is your gift to God.”
Looking back the boy never got into it for the crowds but for Christ. Not for attention, acceptance, applause or approval but an act of adoration to the Almighty. Rewinding the reel of his resume he was ministering all along and even the “smaller venues” were just as important in God’s eyes. Yet, all of his early marketplace concerts, corner crusades and small town recitals were preparing him for this one moment. An audience with The King.
The Little Drummer stood Face to face with God and gave his all and used his God given gift for God’s Glory. One day and possibly one day soon we also will stand before God and give an account for what we did or didn’t do with our gifts. The Bible says: “To whom much is given much is required.” That verse has been imprinted on my heart since elementary school.
In 1982, at the age of ten I was at Vacation Bible School and had a enormous burden for my lost friends without Christ. I wanted everyone to come to Jesus before it was eternally too late. I was thinking: “What will my friends think? What if they don’t respond? What if they reject me or reject Jesus? Will they still invite me to play sports with them, etc?” At that moment, I felt like God said: “Frankie, there is a Heaven and Hell what are you going to do?” At that moment, I elected then and there that I cared more what God thought of me than what my friends would think of me. I cared more for their precious souls than my personal popularity. Well, that week at Vacation Bible School I started calling friends and inviting them to come to church. At the end of the week, I had 22 first time visitors (at the age of ten).
The Little Drummer Boy’s goal was never really to be before the popular, powerful or prestigious but he played for the Prince of Peace, the Christ Child and he knew that the Babe born in that broken barn was worthy. He knew personally that God was worthy of his ALL.
Sometimes as a travelling evangelist; I stare out an airplane window, stretch back in my coach class chair on a train, sipping coffee from Starbucks or kicking back at a rocking chair at Cracker-Barrel (my favorite restaurant) and I wonder if the little boy with his drum realized how far God had brought him? Without a doubt, I believe he realized two things: It was because of God and for God that he played from day one. Also, it was because of God’s grace that the doors of ministry had opened, met folks from all over the world and to the very end he was still “playing” for Jesus. Plus, he never forgot that the biggest “star” would always be the SON!
Today, I thank God that he uses “broken” people to bless others and I am extra thankful that God saw fit to use imperfect people to promote His perfect Son. God truly uses the “foolish to confound the wise.” One of my life verses. The beauty about this little lad is that he was “playing” his drum for God’s glory. We never know the rest of the story but I am convinced that if we pause and listen closely, blocking out the “hustle and bustle” of Christmas you can still slightly hear the beat of that boy’s drum today. Friends, when we are in the presence of the King everything changes. People may mock you, Pharisees may question your motives and pundits may make false media about you but you but one cannot be stagnant once standing before the Savior.
I would have loved to attend one of his concerts after playing before Jesus that time. The precision and power on that lad’s life must have been AMAZING! He was both appointed and anointed! It was not a “performance” but from a personal place now lived out in public. Deep in my spirit, I am convinced that wherever and to whomever that boy ministered he knew God was watching and his gift to THE GIFT was from God.
God was watching while he played to individuals early on, viewing Him before small crowds on the street corner, and staring at him Face to face as the boy played before Him in Bethlehem’s barn-like edifice. Years later, God is still watching and I am sure He is still “smiling.” For him, from Day One it was always for an Audience of One.
Christmas is just a holiday for those that don’t know Christ. However, Christmas is not just a mere holiday but a Holy Day and it is every day for Christian believers. It has been said: “You will never find Christmas under the tree but on the tree of Mount Calvary.” That little Babe born naked in a wooden crib grew up to be the sin-less Savior who died naked on a wooden cross. Indeed, there was something special and “holy” about that day when Jesus was born. Christmas is certainly about giving but it is also about receiving Christ as our Saviour, Sacrifice and Source of Strength.
I love that song by Andre Crouch: “Soon, and very soon. We are going to see the King.” Like never before, I long to see Jesus. As a child I used to stare towards the Heavens looking for Santa with a sleigh led by a red nosed Reindeer. Today, my gaze is on God, my sights set on the Savior, concentrating on Christ and I am looking for the Lord because He (not Rudolph) is the Light of the World.
Truth be told, we all have a gift. We can use our gifts to bring others to God’s Presence. The Bible says: “Whatever your hand finds to do make sure you do it for God’s Glory. Friend, if you are a mechanic…..change carbuerators for Christ. If you are a dentist….do root canals for the Redeemer! God is not interested in the title on our door as much as He is with our testimony in our hearts.
This Christmas Season, as snow sticks on the sill of your window while listening to Nat King Cole sing his classic Christmas carol, trading cookies, wrapping presents and tucking your loved ones in for the evening may you pause and consider the true majesty of the ocassion. Even today, 2,000 years later; God allows us to peek into His crib, ponder His cross and point blank come Face to face with the Christ Child.
In closing, Christmas is special that the God of the Universe came to Earth to teach us how to live. Christ taught us how to live but we because of our sin and selfishness taught Him to die. What is even more marvelous is not that Christ came once but He is coming back! That Christmas morning Jesus was a gentle lamb eventually led to the slaughter. The moment he rolled out of the crib and took His first steps He was already en route to the cross. However, when Jesus returns again He is no longer the little lamb but the Lion of Judah.
The word “mas” in Spanish means more. Truly, we need more of Christ this Christmas. This Christmas Season give God ALL that you got! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!