God in all the Wrong Places

In the interest of simplifying Advent, this week is a re-post of my favorite Advent blog from last year! Blessings to you as you find small ways to rest in this season.


“Oh no, for real?” I thought to myself as the band began to play. “Of all the Christmas songs, why this one? Can’t we sing “Oh Come Emmanuel” or something? This is a kid’s song…”

Despite my internal protests, the drums beat steadily, soon followed by the incessant refrain: “PA RUM PUM PUM PUM.”

And then I started to cry.

“Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum
So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.”

Through my tears, I considered what the Spirit was touching so deeply through this made-up story of a boy drumming for Jesus. I recalled the recent excitement of bringing my finest gift to honor Jesus – a skill that I have spent a decade investing in, the very best I can joyfully offer. That awesome chance to live out (dare I say show off?) my giftedness didn’t turn out how I envisioned; disappointment and a sense of mediocrity had me in a funk. And into my funk came that steady drumbeat:

“Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?”

Oh, my wounded pride! Like this boy, I bring nothing worthy of a king. Neither do I offer a gift that is ‘the best’ or ‘the greatest’. Even the wise men offered mere earthly goods to God’s Son: things made holy only by what they represent. We give what we are given to give, for we have nothing else!

“Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum

Now a veritable puddle of tears, I sat in the deep truth of those words. I had done my best for Him, and I wanted it to feel that way. But have you ever heard a little boy do his best at drumming? My best is really nothing special, yet he blesses my offering in all its imperfection.

Perhaps kid’s songs are underrated. Next I’ll be crying about Frosty and his corn-cob pipe!

Yet I am grateful to discover God’s presence in this unexpected moment – a place of disappointment, a prideful thought, a song of little consequence.


Friends, this is the heart of the Advent season! God-with-us shows up where he doesn’t belong. Our long-awaited Lord is born in all the wrong ways – in obscure poverty, to an unwed mother, into an oppressed people group, during a dangerous time. None of these are things I would choose for my son! And yet God chooses all of this for his.

Thus we find the Christ in the most unexpected of situations.

Perhaps this is his great mercy to us: Jesus is present for everyone in this Advent season, precisely because he dwells in all the wrong places. Not all of us can make this season sparkly and perfect, but we all have access to disappointment, fear, brokenness, and need.

In this Advent season, I invite you to look with me for God’s unexpected appearances. Perhaps not so much in the presents as with the poor. Perhaps not so much in loveliness as in loneliness. Perhaps not so much in perfect moments as in broken ones longing for redemption.


© 2018 Jacqueline Tisthammer. All Rights Reserved.

6 thoughts on “God in all the Wrong Places

  1. I can certainly empathize with you, Jackie. Wanting and striving to do my best for the Lord and feeling my best still isn’t enough or good enough to offer. It’s the heart and offering that matters. The second part of your blog shows that in abundance. We try so hard to give and be our best for Him. God sent His best — His only begotten Son — perfection, perfect love, the perfect sacrifice, perfect righteousness, a perfect human life lived out as a show-and-tell for us. No greater gift could be given but the Lord Himself. Just as he was wrapped and placed in a manger, we wrap ourselves in Him. And give our hearts — the best that we have to offer — and what He wants.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember this (both the situation and the post) from last year and I’m still tearing up while rhythmically bouncing baby (who hasn’t napped for more than 20 min at a time today) on a yoga ball… Maybe I’ll bounce to parumpumpumpuns

    Liked by 1 person

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