|Photo by a4gpa on Flickr|
My earliest memory of church, and probably one of my earliest memories, period, is of dancing. I was about two, I think, and my impressions were of legs flying everywhere (since I barely came up to the adults' waists) and intense joy. Eventually, we moved and I rarely saw dancing in church, although one pastor would frequently be moved to some exuberant steps.
I remember one time when we were worshiping and I felt as if my heart would burst if I didn't find another way to express my joy and adoration. The problem was, everyone around me seemed perfectly content to sing. I whispered inwardly to God that I wanted to dance, but was afraid of looking silly or distracting people around me. In the next instant, the worship leader suddenly stopped and asked for all of the young people to come up to the front and begin to dance. I was laughing with delight as I poured my heart out in worship to the God who hears even the tiniest whispers of out hearts, and responds with open-armed grace.
In my heart of hearts, I love to dance. However, I am as uncoordinated as they come. I have absolutely no sense of rhythm, and am likely to trip over my own feet or bump into something just when walking, let alone anything more complicated. My sister in law dances beautifully, and so do Ariana and Joel. Carlos rarely dances, but considering his amazing athletic ability, I have no doubt that the talent is there. The few times that I have tried, I had to work out an extremely basic set of prescribed steps and repeat them without improvisation of any sort. I never quite got the rhythm down, and it was so forced and awkward that I quickly gave up.
Sometimes, we approach life like that. We try so hard to fit into a prearranged sequence of steps. Sometimes it is so that we won't stand out or look silly. Sometimes it is our own coping method--if we can tightly regiment some aspects of our lives, we feel better about the areas that we can't possibly control. But sometimes, the more we try to get ourselves and our families to comply with the metronome in our head, the more discouraged we feel.
I love the Message version of Matthew 11:28-30:
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace."
That is the secret--following the right partner. The King of all the Universe is inviting us to dance with Him. It is OK if our moves aren't the same as everyone else, or if we don't know all the steps. He just wants us to be with Him. Some days, it is a wildly exuberant jump for joy. Other days, it is simply slow-dancing in His arms as our hearts beat together. Either way, there is freedom to move in grace. He makes all things beautiful in His time.