Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine, and all the women followed her with tambourines, dancing. Miriam led them in singing, Sing to God— what a victory! He pitched horse and rider into the sea! Exodus 15:20-21
You have to get out of town in a hurry. You are leaving the only place you’ve ever called home, never to return again. You aren’t sad, but a little scared. Scared because you, your mother and your mother’s mother have only known oppression. Now, you’re free. Just like that. You heard about the negotiations, but you didn’t really think it would happen. Seems too good to be true. Got to move fast because the powers-that-be may change their mind. There’s much to do, much to pack and no time to waste. You need clothes for you and the children. You need money and food for the road. Speaking of the road, where are you going anyway? Someone needs to pack up granddaddy. Don’t forget your pet(s). Tick. Tick. Tick. Move! You can only take what you can carry. What are you going to take? What can’t you live without? The tambourines? Yes, of course!
When I read that the Israelite women led a second line -in the desert- to the envy of Mardi Gras- after crossing the Red Sea, I laughed out loud. What the world! You’re running for your life…and you need your tambourine?
Did these women know that the God in Heaven was going to supernaturally part the Red Sea, making way for a Houdini-like escape? I doubt it.
Did these women know that miracles, in general, awaited them and wanted to be ready for an end-zone celebration? Doubt that, too.
So how, then, did the tambourines make it on the must-have list? I think I know the answer. They weren’t necessarily expecting a miracle. To them, the miracle already occurred; Pharaoh had let them go. No, I think they packed the tambourines to encourage themselves as they ventured into the unknown, following a man who used to live in the house with the very man whose family kept them in bondage for 430 years. I think they knew that if they were going to make it, they had to take their praise on the run.
This past October, I ran a half-marathon with my friend, Jason. The decision to run was last minute – like less than 24 hours before- and it went something like this- “I’ll do it if you do it.” Jason was the perfect running mate because neither of us had properly trained for the race. I didn’t have to worry about messing up his time, keeping pace, or if I lingered too long at the water stops.
Even though our training had been sporadic, we were confident that we would finish simply because we knew what to do if and when the race got tough. For me, it was all about the packing:
- Goo. Check
- Water/Gatorade. Check
- Jolly Ranchers. Check
- Lip Gloss- aka “Attitude Adjuster”. Check
- Aleve (Self-explanatory). Check
- Music. Check Check.
The first five miles were great. The adrenaline was pumping. The views were beautiful, and Jason provided plenty of laughs. My music was on shuffle mode allowing those who ran close to me to hear everything from R&B and rap to praise & worship.
By mile 8, the sun was blinding, the jokes weren’t as funny, and I discovered a new, angry muscle. By mile 10, I am running simply because it hurt not to. That one angry muscle was screaming profanities at me and the Aleve was seemingly on a time release, scheduled for anytime after my run. The conversation with Jason had dwindled to two word exchanges, “You good?”
At this point in the run, every breath is a prayer. I un-shuffle my music and select my praise and worship playlist because Missy Elliott has lost her rhythm, Beyonce’s she-woman lyrics can no longer propel my legs forward, and Sean Paul’s voice is starting to grate my already exposed nerves. There is no way I’m going to make it to mile 13 without Him.
I began to praise Him on the run, to thank Him for the gift of health and strength of my body. I wasn’t expecting a miracle. No, I just needed to pull on Him, hang on Him, talk to Him, let Him talk to me as I pushed through the toughest part of the race. I needed Him to help me forget the pain I was feeling, to keep my ego from looking at my watch or my pride from fixating on the overweight woman that just passed me. It worked. Jesus worked. We finished and then posted pictures on Facebook to prove it.
The Israelites were venturing into the unknown. Their only confidence, which wavered often, was that there was a God in Heaven. They packed their praise because they knew they would have to stir up their confidence, to find their rhythm, strengthen their legs and regulate their hearts, their breathing.
Now, let’s apply this to the race we run everyday – Life. God did not promise us that life would be fair. But He did say He was just (2 Thessalonians 1:6). He did not say that a weapon would not be formed against us. He just said that it would not succeed (Isaiah 54:17). God did not say there would not be sorrow, but He did promise that joy would come in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Praise helps to usher in the morning. When your body turns on you, when you’re lonely even though you’re not alone, when you’ve experienced yet another miscarriage, when success feels like a curse, when His promises seem to take forever, you need a tambourine to get through- to keep your peace, your sanity.
Your race may have another name. Cancer. Addiction. Divorce. Abuse. Debt. Unemployment. Unrealized dreams… The only way to make it across the finish line is to stir up our confidence in Jesus. PRAISE. ON. THE. RUN.
Here are at least 3 benefits to packing your praise:
- Praise Positions your Problems. Through praise, we are reminded that God is bigger than any problem that we have. (Psalm 147)
- Praise Moves God. Praise says you believe Jesus can do it, fix it, heal it, save it. There are numerous accounts in the Word that illustrate how belief in God’s ability and willingness evokes His favor and the demonstration of His power. (Gen. 15:6; John 14:12; John 20:29; Mark 9; James 2:23; Romans 10:9-10)
- Praise Appropriately Humbles Us. It moves us out of a place of self-centeredness and pride, while elevating His character and strength. Praise requires that we abandon the notion of self-sufficiency. In turn it builds a confidence and assurance in Christ that circumstances cannot uproot. (Psalm 63)
Get yourself a tambourine. If we have to run this race- and we do- praise allows us to run in the shade with the wind at our back. Take your praise on the run!