catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 12, Num 10 :: 2013.05.10 — 2013.05.23


I hope you dance!

Country singer Lee Ann Womack croons,

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.
May you never take one single breath for granted. 
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean. 
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,
I hope you dance. I hope you dance.

Dance is an outward expression of wonder, joy, thankfulness and promise, no matter what path life may take, no matter the ecstasy or sorrow. It is unified motion, flowing across time and space. Dance streams smoothly to the beat of the music and the thudding of hearts. It moves in rhythm and harmony with someone else. Dancing: I love it.

My dancing days date back to the early 1960s when we spent every lunch hour of our high school years spinning records in the school gym, jitter bugging with Elvis and the Beach Boys and twisting with Chubby Checker. Dancing provided a release from school work and the limited scope of life in a country village. When we danced to the Beatles, Bobby Vinton or the Four Aces, we weren’t in rural Pennsylvania. We were in New York, London or on the beach in California, and we were free, dancing to the beat of a different drummer.

My dance partner was Linda. She knew exactly how to lead, and I could easily sense and follow the nudges, pushes, spins and push-offs that she intended. We moved together flawlessly, almost floating in sync across the gymnasium floor.

Since high school, I haven’t danced much. I did take a few turns with a professional ballroom dancer on a cruise once, but he seemed to demand more in movement and synchronization than I could produce. I found myself tripping over his feet and my own with not an inkling or sensation about which way I should step. The end of the song didn’t come soon enough. Frustrated with my uncoordinated moves, I gladly exited the dance floor and headed for my seat, which I kept for the remainder of the evening.

But even that unsuccessful experience hasn’t quenched my desire to dance. When I watch the show Dancing with the Stars, the old desires hurdle to the fore, and I fantasize, envisioning a slim and youthful me, dancing with Max, following his every guided movement, twirling across the stage, leaping, bending, spinning — a light and ethereal me, never stepping on his feet or mine, snapping my legs and arms to each orchestrated crescendo of the fox trot, rumba, tango, waltz or passé double.

Alas, my imagination runs amok. My over-sixty, overweight body will surely never see this fantasy materialize unless I make it my goal to learn and practice diligently the skills of dancing. That probably won’t happen. It would appear to be the death of dance for me.

Fortunately, I am learning to dance a different type of step.

In Galatians 5:25, God reminds us, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” To keep in step with the Spirit! To sense His tender touch and to walk, move, speak and act in tandem with His Spirit — not to flail and stumble without grace through life, but to know the touch of the Master’s hand gently nudging me in the right direction; to sense His leading and to stride in synchronization to His will; to rest in His encircling arms and to step resolutely across the floor until the music ends. This is the dance I am learning. This is the dance I love.

When I invited Jesus into my heart, He gifted me with His Spirit (Acts 2:38). My body became His temple. Now, God’s desires I walk and live with and through His Spirit. Sometimes a shove or a push is needed to point me His way. But, always the loving gentleman, He is teaching me the art of listening and moving in harmony with Him.

How do we dance in sync with God’s Spirit? By asking for daily cleansing from sin, by daily surrendering to His authority and leading, by listening for His still, small voice. My skills improve with consistency and faithfulness. I find myself longing to hear the sound of His movement because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of me, and I need only follow His lead.

King David knew how to dance. In Psalm 149:3, God reminds us to “praise his name with dancing,” and David took every opportunity to do just that. When the Israelites brought the Ark back to the city of David, he “danced before the Lord with all His might” (2 Samuel 6:14). He danced with enough gusto to set the teeth of his wife Michal on edge.

When he was facing the relentless attacks of the Philistines in the Valley of Rephaim, The LORD told David to wait and not move until “you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees… because that will mean the LORD has gone out in front of you” (2 Samuel 5:24). So David obeyed, and the Lord struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer! Here was a man who could listen and move to the nudges and whisperings of God’s Spirit.

This is the dance I want to accomplish: listening for His Spirit as He marches in the tops of the poplars, moving with His desires and will, and stepping to the sound of His music. Who knows? Perhaps I, too, can follow God’s lead triumphantly for the entire dance, from Gibeon to Gezer.

And I pray this for you also: I hope you dance.

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