Once you’ve heard them as a leader, you will recognize them immediately.
Doubt. Innuendo. Power plays. Fears. Clout. Interference. Subterfuge. Tears.
A steady beat of dissent detected in the distance. A low rumble of gathering force rolling in the background of conversation. Repetitious responses of resentment or rejection accompany dialogue and rhythmically obscure the delicate song of the dance in God’s love that is our message to deliver.
Jesus was intimately familiar with these sounds.
In his dealing with hypocrisy, deliverance of unclean spirits, decidedly authoritative teaching, and determined commitment to bring glory to God and life to Sabbath rest, his tympanic membranes often heard drumbeats rising in the crowd’s reaction to his words.
Yet, he willingly played the part he had come to play with the unremitting beat of love.
While scribes and Pharisees together with the Herodians held counsel on how to destroy him from the outset of his public ministry in their common desire to maintain the status quo, Jesus presses forward, marching to a different beat attuned to the pulse of the Father’s heart whose driving accompaniment throughout history has been moving us towards our full redemption into his kingdom of grace.
Calming storms. Challenging forms. Healing, teaching, setting free.
And then, more drumbeats as he ascends into Jerusalem to die.
A steady heat of hostility infects his passage through the streets. A thundering of peers endorses polls communicating discontent. Striking deception divides and procures dislike for the strong dance of humility in which all who would surrender to his lead belong.
Yes, Jesus was intimately familiar with these sounds.
In sealing his fate by exposing hate, severance from safe viewpoints, splendidly wise rebuttals to religious assault, and sermons committed to living truth regardless of the tests, his body took the blows and beat with suffering pain, his merciful compassion pounding in his mind and heart and will to love us still.
He stepped apart with weeping heart for those he came to serve and gave his all.
While religious leaders set scoundrels free, they nailed Jesus to a tree. Pressing forward to the finish line when pressed against rough beams until his final breath, it was with parched tongue that the song of grace carried on, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’
Calm. Challenged. Absolute Love.
He willingly laid down his life so we could hear the drumbeat of hope.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness on men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2: 5-11)
Is there something from which we may need to be emptied within ourselves which would help us better face disturbing drumbeats and maintain the driving response of God’s love beating in us even when its difficult to cope?
‘Lord, one day every drum will beat with praise to the Lamb upon the throne, no more sticks, no more stones. May the rhythm of our lives be set by this eternal hope; perhaps reset with new faith in your ability to align the meter of our minds and hearts and wills with yours as we strain to hear the pulse of perfect love and stay in sync with you.
When percussive strikes of adversity set the pace of our days, give us ears to hear the deeper drumbeats still of your holy love sovereignly shaping the overall work of your Spirit in each note … and follow you. Let syncopated beats of your enduring wisdom and compassion resound between the downbeats of destructive ways to shine the glory of the love of God more clearly than could otherwise be heard.
And Father, for beloved servants who suffer for your name and currently feel the reverberating thud of being nailed in muddled places where drumbeats drive assaults against their strength of soul, gently draw near to tap the beat of your love on hands outstretched in prayer to make things clear, to wipe each tear.
Child. Son. Daughter. Mine. Bride. Won. Wedding. Wine.
Help each one of us learn to say with steady beat, ‘Father, forgive them. I choose love.’