Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Tambourine Girl


More than a decade ago, an odd thing happened in church one morning. I don't remember what the music was, but I thought, "It would sure sound better with a tambourine." 

That's not my usual response to worship music, so I was a little surprised. I could imagine a tambourine playing along with the song. It sounded so much better in my head. More joyful. More vibrant. More alive.

Then, it started. Every church song was missing one essential item. The sound of a tambourine.

It drove me crazy at first. I thought it was a devil-attack, designed to distract me. The sound was so joyful, though, that I finally played the tambourine in my head and enjoyed the music. It was nice.

You can probably guess what happened next. I wanted to play a real tambourine. I thought about this a good while before I announced it one night over supper. "I'm thinking about getting a tambourine."
My mother, who was living with Ryan and me at the time, stared at me for a moment. "What?" 

"I want a tambourine. I'm thinking about getting one."

Mama rolled her eyes. She was used to my crazy ideas. "You can probably get one at Wal-Mart."

I did an eye-roll of my own. "Mama, I don't want a kid's toy tambourine. I want a musical tambourine. I want a real one."

I probably shouldn't admit this, but in my mind, I had begun to think about having that tambourine in church and playing along with the music. (Still seated in my usual place, of course.)

I mentioned this to one of my older friends at church. "You should join the orchestra."

"Oh, no. I don't want to be up front where everyone can see me. I just want to play my tambourine while I worship."
She gave me a sideways look and shook her head. "Leanna, honey, if you shake that tambourine in your seat, everyone in the building is gonna look at you. That would have to be one of the most distracting things you could do."

My tambourine-playing dream crashed to the floor and shattered.

As Christmas time neared, the desire for a tambourine was still alive. When I announced that the only thing I wanted for Christmas was a nice tambourine, Ryan just shook his head. "I hope you're not planning to play that thing at church. If you do, I'm sitting in the balcony."

My mama agreed with him. "If she does, I'm going with you."

I got my tambourine, but I never did play it in church. Ryan and Mama didn't much care for my tambourine playing around the house, so I hung it on a hook on the wall and used it for a decoration. When I was alone, however, I would take it down, sing to the Lord, and shake the tambourine to the music. I thought it sounded wonderful.

Years after I got my tambourine, the generosity of Toyota provided a park for Blue Springs. We started having Friday Night Jam in the park and area musicians come together and play. 

You probably guessed it. 

One Friday night, I slipped my tambourine off the wall and into my bag. As the musicians played, I could (as usual) hear how great the music would sound with the addition of the tambourine. I pulled it out, gave it a good shake, and nearly wept over the lovely sound.

I've been playing a tambourine ever since. If there's music at my house, you can expect a tambourine accompaniment. It's a joyful sound and, for me, represents the kind of freedom we should have in worshipping God.

In case you're laughing (which I kinda hope you are), let me remind you of two things. First, I like to live with abandon before the God who created me to live this way. Second, the Bible is full of tambourine-playing worship. 

According to the Blue Letter Bible, a tambourine is a membrane-covered wooden circle with bells attached. Mine's a modern-day version, I guess.

The tambourine is mentioned fifteen times in Scripture and, every time, it's in conjunction with joyful worship. Three of the Psalms specifically mention praising Him with the tambourine.

I learned a lot about God through my tambourine. He loves our praise. He especially loves it when we stop holding back because of pride, worried about what the people around us think. He loves it when we're free to worship Him with all our heart. Even when that includes the tambourine.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36 niv

"Praise Him with tambourine and dance, Praise Him with strings and pipe...
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord." 
Praise Psalm 150:4, 6 esv

Whether the tambourine is your instrument of choice or not, there's a lesson to be learned. Worship is more authentic when it flows from a heart that's free of pride and full of joy. 

Today, stop where you are and sing to the Lord. 

Go outside. Raise your arms to the sky and thank Him, out loud, for all the gifts He's given you. Literally do this, not just in your mind.

Shout to Him in praise. 

You might feel silly at first, but it's the kind of freedom that pleases our Lord, and what could be better than that? 

Sing Hallelujah to the Lord, and do it right out loud.
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Don't forget about my free e-book. It's only free for four more days. (6/3-6/8/16) I still need to give away several hundred more books to meet my goal, but we have a great start, so download it today. Thanks so much! (It's free.) Here's the link: The Clay Papers

In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: The Wonder Dogs and the Chicken Feather

#tambourine #praiseHim #singtotheLord #linesfromleanna