As I was sitting in a Christmas church service yesterday listening to a powerful rendition of “Little Drummer Boy,” the one lyric that caught my attention was “I played my best for Him.” It reminded me how Joseph, Mary, and the entire cast of unlikely characters in the Christmas story really did play their best for the newborn king. Earlier in the service, my wife Krista and I watched in awe as our best friend’s daughter, Kara, performed a beautiful Christmas dance to Mary Did You Know. Kara’s in eighth grade and she worked hard choreographing her Christmas dance that she not only performed at her school, but all three Sunday morning services. As I thought of the worship-filled movements of Kara’s Christmas dance and now the challenge “to play my best for Him,” I was moved by the simplicity of the Christmas story inviting you and I to offer our very best in all we do in worship of God. As artists, creating our best for him in our art-making is a gift of worship we can offer Him this Christmas. Read on…
Large Nativity with Joseph by Wayne Forte
On this Christmas Eve 2012, I’d like to offer you three simple ways you can play your best for Him in all of who you are and all that you do.
1. Playing Your Best for Him Begins with Listening
From Zechariah to Mary to Joseph to the three Wise Guys, what constantly amazes me about the Christmas story is how God spoke through angels and in dreams. Before the promised Messiah was born to the Virgin, the ongoing theme woven through this incredible story is the remarkably simple idea of listening to God. When God spoke, any one of these central characters could have turned a deaf ear. Take Joseph for example. After Mary gave him the unwelcome news that she was now prego, he had several options. He could have broken off the engagement. Or he could have this teenage adulterer stoned. Or when an angel spoke to him in a dream telling him not to fear and to take Mary as his bride, he could have woken up and said, “Musta been that Big Dave burrito I had last night.”
Despite what others might think of him, Joseph chose the path of courage. How? He listened to the voice of God through the angel.
Let’s not forget that Joseph was a craftsman. A carpenter who had spent years honing his craft by “listening to the wood.” Yes it might be a bit speculative, but let’s engage our imagination for a moment: Do you think there’s any relationship between listening to God and listening to grain and feel of the wood? What lessons about carpentry and woodworking might have taught Joseph to better listen to God? What can your craft teach you about listening to God?
2. Playing Your Best for Him Means Action
If you’ve followed Art, Life, & Faith for any time now, you know I favor artists taking right action. Action, in the best sense of the word, is all about obedience. Right action in the direction God is leading. Playing your best for Him is an act of worship and worship requires offering God our very best in love and obedience.
When I watched Kara’s dance, it was so clear she was playing-dancing-worshipping God with the very best she had to offer. Though her movements were limited by the size of church stage, Kara worked within the limitations she had no control over. What she did have control over was the attitude of her mind, the condition of her heart, and the movement of her hands, arms and feet. (I still don’t get why we don’t see more dance in the Church. What a perfect example of using our whole and holy bodies in worship of the Lord!)
In the Christmas story and in life, action is one of the greatest ways to overcome fear. Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth, the shepherds, and the Wise Men all over came their fears by taking action. Joseph could have bailed on Mary. Mary could have told the Holy Spirit to take a hike. Elizabeth could have chalked up the birth of John as a weird coincidence. The shepherds could have run off for a stiff drink at the Inn. The Wise Men could have looked at one another and groaned, “This is a really long walk. I’m tired of carrying this gold!”
But no. In love and obedience, through this unlikely cast of Christmas characters, God staged a divine invasion into the darkness. In each of their respective roles, they played their best for Him by not letting fear rule the night.
3. Playing Your Best for Him Involves All of You
If you are a dancer, offer your whole body in worship to God as you dance.
If you are a writer, give thanks to God as you type one key at a time.
If you are a filmmaker, see God through the lens as you give birth to the story he’s given you.
If you are a musician, enjoy God’s gift of music as you play your instrument.
If you are a singer, let your voice reveal your love for God as you sing with everything you have in you.
If you are visual artist, be in awe of God’s creative touch in you to make the invisible visible.
If you are a craftsman, offer your senses of touch and sight in praise of God as you create.
If you are a designer, reflect on God’s generosity in giving you the unique capacity to transform ideas into images.
If you are a photographer, offer your eyes and camera as instruments to capture the world around you.
If you are a follower of Christ, offer your whole self in worship to God in joy, love and obedience.
Playing your best for Him is not an act of duty, obligation, or religious rule-keeping.
Playing your best of Him is a simple act of faith flowing from intimate relationship with your Creator.
Be like that little drummer boy who comes upon the beauty, wonder and awe of manger scene this Christmas.
He can’t help, but play his very best for the newborn King.
Questions: What aspect of the Christmas story challenges you to “play your best for Him”? How is your art-making an act of worship?
I’d love your comments and feedback!