01.20.20 – Pack Your Wetsuit…and Tambourine

Journal entry by Vicki Bunke 

‘When faith takes a journey, it packs a tambourine’ the speaker said. Once she explained the story and significance, I have never thought of tambourines the same. She is Gaylyn Kelly, one of the ministers at our church, and she was referring to the following verse from the Exodus story:

Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing.(Exodus 15:20)

Now for the context…Miriam, Moses, Aaron and all the Israelites were leaving Egypt. They had to pack in a hurry and so could only take a few precious possessions with them. Amid the chaos of a sudden escape and being chased by the Egyptian army, they headed to the Promised Land. Dusty bedlam, an unknown future, and fear also pursued them. God interceded and the waters crushed Pharaoh’s horses and chariots. They were safe on the other side of the Red Sea. This is when Miriam and the women brought out their tambourines.

Although I was previously familiar with this Exodus story, there is an important part that I had always missed. But thankfully, Gaylyn pointed it out in her 11.03.19 sermon called, ‘Who Is Like Our God?’ that I will never forget.

Miriam and the other women packed their tambourines before they left. Before they knew what would happen. Before they took even the first step towards their destiny. They had not already read the Exodus story when they were frantically gathering their belongings, yet they packed their tambourines anyway. They knew someday, somewhere they would have reason to celebrate. And they wanted to be ready when the invitation came.

Sometimes life takes us through difficult places and puts before us Red Sea obstacles. God certainly does not exempt us from coming right up to the tippy-toe edge where we have no idea how we are going to get through or how we are going to survive. He does not take us around our Red Sea obstacles. He does not help us avoid them. Rather, He takes us through those places and preserves us in the midst of them.

You know what the Miriam story says to me? It says to me what Gaylyn Kelly reminded us all about on that November morning…always bring your tambourine. Most of the time there may not seem to be any cause for singing or rejoicing or tambourine playing, but by faith you know that the time will come. And when that time comes, you will have your tambourine ready.

As I have briefly shared here recently, I plan to swim in 14 of the Swim Across America (SAA) open water events in 2020 in honor of Grace. In addition to having a chance to honor Grace, it is also an exquisite opportunity to raise awareness and help fund high-risk, high-reward cancer research through the SAA charity swims. Because guess what? Cancer impacts all of us. Everyone’s life has been touched by cancer. I can’t think of anyone I know that hasn’t hasn’t had a family member and/or friend experience a diagnosis of cancer or passed away from the disease. The intrusion of this disease into our lives leaves a trail of incomprehension.

But, if you have ever had the pleasure of attending an SAA charity swim, you may have heard Rob Butcher, the CEO of SAA, share this message:

The three words everyone wants to hear are, ‘I love you.’ The three words no one wants to hear are, ‘You have cancer.’ But if you do hear those words, you want to hear, ‘There is hope.’

Because guess what? There is hope. Always. Why? Because hope has no finish line, nor will it ever.

And that’s why I and others are embarking on ‘The Amazing Grace Swim Across America Tour – 2020.’

14 swims. 14 cities. 14 opportunities to pack our tambourines. 14 chances to be ready to celebrate. 14 possibilities to make a difference. And I hope you will join us on one or two or three or 14 of them!

Very soon I will share with you how you can join “The Amazing Grace Swim Across America Tour – 2020.” Until then, go ahead and pack your wetsuit…and tambourine.


Here is the calendar of my scheduled swims:

April 18 – Houston
May 9 – Tampa
June 13 – Charleston
June 27 – Fairfield County (Stamford, CT)
July 10 – Detroit
July 25 – Long Island Sound (Westchester County, NY)
August 1 – Richmond
August 8 – Chicago
August 23 – Denver
August 29 – St. Louis
September 12 – Seattle
September 19 – Charlotte
September 20 – Baltimore
September 26 – Atlanta


So we will sing to our souls
We won’t bury our hope
Where He leads us to go
There’s a red sea road
When we can’t see the way
He will part the waves
And we’ll never walk alone
Down a red sea road
(Eillie Holcomb, Red Sea Road)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s