The Man With The Tambourine

{ Sunday, June 10, 2012 }

I strolled through the meek and modest doors of Grace Midtown tonight with my head in the clouds and a hunger for worship, completely unaware of the soul-rocking sight I would witness only minutes later.
Arriving early to the popular 6 p.m. service, I nabbed an aisle seat on the shiny, second row pew. While fiddling with my phone to pass the time, I felt a tap on my shoulder. A middle-aged African-American man stood in the aisle, smiling, and offered me a congenial “hello.” I returned the gesture and, in turn, returned to typing out a short and nonsensical text message.
The man was of slight stature, with a paint-stained T-shirt and baggy jeans cloaking his skinny frame. His hands looked worn with years of work, and his face was etched with the lines of age and burden. This man could have easily been a drifter or wanderer. However, there was a playful joy meandering behind his eyes. The type of joy that shines and emanates far beyond reason or unforeseeable life experiences.
The young pastor walked down the aisle toward the stage, but not before the man reached out and embraced him in an impromptu hug. The two exchanged small talk and, although the man took longer than most to articulate his words, he began to gesture to something on-stage. The pastor knew immediately. I watched as he snatched the in-house tambourine from the stage and kindly handed it to the smiling man eagerly waiting in the pew. No sooner had he had the tambourine in his hands when he proclaimed, “A man’s gotta have his tambourine!” In that moment, you would’ve thought he held the whole world in grip.
As the worship team took the stage, I watched the man’s excitement grow larger and larger from the corner of my eye. As we rose to our feet to sing “Blessed Be Your Name,” he began rattling the tambourine perfectly in time.
Throughout the set of songs, all I could do was watch him. He worshipped openly and without abandon. The tambourine in his hand sent praises up to God with each and every beat. His praises were honest and pure. He didn’t care who was watching or what anyone thought of him; he was in it only for Him.
Immediately following the night’s service he humbly left his pew and made a silent exit from the church.
Everything that I witnessed tonight followed me home in the ride home. I couldn’t stop thinking about him; the pure worship and gratefulness of it all.
Here I am — a 21-year-old woman with a college education, a car, a family, a spacious house, more clothes than I know what to do with, a wonderful group of friends. Yet I find new reasons to falter in my faith each day.
He had Jesus and his tambourine.
The moral of the story? He let his light shine with reckless abandon.
Matthew 5:15
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”


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