19 When Pharaoh’s horses with his chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the water of the sea back over them. But the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. 20 Then the prophetess Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women came out following her with tambourines and dancing.
The new normal, post-COVID-19 reality is a call to action. This pandemic has forced us to react, rather than proactively set the direction and pace for the way forward. We have the opportunity to set the example for the world, rather than the other way around.
When the way we have travelled, when the path ahead not only erodes, but also falls away and leaves the edge of a cliff in its place, this is not an opportunity to jump. Rather, pause. Listen. Watch. Where is the forerunner? Where did we lose him on the edge of the horizon? Where, along the way, did we take our eyes off and go our own way?
These are unprecedented days. I imagine your eyes were fixed. And we have come to the end of ourselves and what we thought we knew. So turn around. It is simply time to pivot. No sudden moves. And if you can’t see him, cry out to him. Yell His name into the void. He is with you, waiting with you, grieving with you and for His world.
What if, when He said he knit us together in our mothers’ wombs, that was a divine strand that He wove into our being? I imagine it is a gold strand of image-bearing potential that reflects the Father’s heart, character, nature. And what if that golden strand is the source of all creativity, imagination, compassion, dreaming, grit, potential? What would happen if we actually leaned into the call to childlike faith in these days and took up the charge of exploiting the creative image-bearing nature of our leaders?
What you have been called to, you have been equipped for. So what do you feel you lack?
What is it you require Him to supply you with in order to carry on, on the narrow way, with a single-file, 2-metre-distanced, yet wirelessly connected flock?
What contactless delivery is He calling you to make today? And what do you need him to deliver to you or you from in order to lead into the unknown?
Because here’s the thing: this season has served to highlight, much to the embarrassment of the Church, our self-sufficiency. We know how to run a service, build a program, host Sunday mornings, sing beautifully, collect expensive tools and create beautiful things. But when we are stripped down and normal is not an option, are we afraid because we don’t know how do lead through this or because we had forgotten to follow the Leader long ago?
When we build monuments that highlight our ability to deliver content, does the content stand when the monument crumbles? And do the sheep just like the sound of the shepherd’s voice, or do they rely on him to lead them to what they need, in order to take one more step? How far ahead of Him were you when the road itself fell into the earth?
What is the story you want to tell about Him when this is all over?
Moreover, what story do you believe He is writing within you that you need to live out in these days? What is the prayer that does not leave your lips? What is the hamster on the wheel that you can’t seem to satisfy? Why makes you cry? What makes your insides quiver with anticipation?
Because you will need your tambourine again. It may not feel like the instrument of choice during these long days. But amidst, panic and only an hour to pack, Miriam grabbed her tambourine and started to run (see Exodus 15:19-20). It had no earthly value and certainly wouldn’t benefit Israel in the same way that gold and silver would, but its intrinsic value you prove immeasurable from generation to generation.
We were made for God’s pleasure. We were made to praise Him and give Him all the glory, regardless of circumstance. To be clear: the calling to honour the Lord with our praises is not contingent upon what He does for us. He has already done everything for us. We praise Him to remind ourselves who He is, and to remind Him that we know and celebrate who He is. So what have you done with your tambourine in these days?
I’m not saying you should feel like playing it today. But you should know that you will feel like playing it again one day so keep it close. Keep your eye on it. Remember all of the times you have been compelled to play it before and remind yourself that He is worthy even before He does the thing you’re asking Him to do today. Remember to praise because He is worthy, and because that is reason enough.