She never stops dancing…twirling and twisting from room to room. In the mall, in the hotel, by the pool – she dances. It’s become second nature. It seems dance beats within her heart.
I’ve sat hours after hours in parking lots and auditoriums as my daughter, Hannah, takes dance classes or performs for an audience. Competitions from Pittsburgh to Virginia Beach…I have watched her take the stage, persevere through the cracking and popping of her 13-year-old hips and ankles, tear up when she feels she didn’t dance her best, and smile broadly after dancing well.
In some ways, Hannah is most alive when she dances – or when she’s watched another dance well. Watching the beauty of dance captivates Hannah. She appreciates the hard work and sheer determination – the hours upon hours it takes to become a well-trained dancer with proper technique. And when she sees another, talented dancer take the stage and perform beautifully, Hannah isn’t jealous; she’s in awe. Her little soul appreciates the time, talents, and heart of the gal on stage who made the music visual through movement.
The dancer either comes alive or goes through the motions, depending upon the music, her mood, and the circumstances surrounding her performance…time, place, teammates, and more.
And the audience senses the soul of the once dancing, for it either permeates the performance or is absent from the act.
I am either alive in Christ – Him permeating my life – or He seems somewhat absent from my soul.
Lately, I have been struggling with the “fake” of Christian community. The unwillingness of so many “Christians” to enter the mess of daily life with another. And if we do enter the mess, we exit quickly when the messy gets too messy. We then use our Christianeze to explain our departure…things like…it just wasn’t wise for me to help her or I don’t have the answers she needs.
I watch others suffer. I watch others want so badly to feel loved. I watch them try so hard to fit in and be apart. And, yet, others kick the door shut, comfortable in their own circles with people like them. Unwilling to open hearts and arms wide. Unwilling to say you’re loved and welcome unconditionally here. Regardless of past or present, income, or political beliefs – you’re loved here, sister, simply because you’re human.
Struggling with walking alongside the messy – and I am definitely one of the messy – I have begun to ask myself…when I interact with others, am I alive in Christ? Is He permeating my life? Or does he seem absent? How open are my arms?
And if my answer is…He seems absent, my arms seem crossed, and my heart closed, then I must ask myself why. Where is He? Why do I feel his absence rather than his presence? If I am rescued and He is at work redeeming my mess, why am I sitting on the sidelines mad that no one is entering my mess, but unwilling to enter anyone else’s mess?
Why am I not living a transformed, fully alive and rescued life?
God uses Hannah’s dancing to explain that.
When Hannah watches a very talented dancer with flawless technique bringing music to life with her movement, she immediately feels a new resolve to become a better dancer.
Witnessing the beauty of dance, reminds Hannah of her love for it. It motivates her to become better. The beauty of dance spurs her to becoming a beautiful dancer.
Until it’s time for ballet class.
Hannah refers to ballet as the necessary evil because ballet is the foundation for all dance. Beautiful feet and arms – flexibility – balance – all of it is learned in ballet class.
Yet, when Hannah is in ballet class, she forgets how much she loves dance. She gets caught up in the rules – the rights and wrongs – of feet positioning, hip movement, and hand placement.
She becomes frustrated and has to force herself to work harder and persevere. Dance is no longer beautiful, but all kinds of hard. She pushes through because it’s necessary, but she doesn’t “feel” dancing during ballet class.
So it is when I get caught up in the rights and wrongs – the rules and regulations of my faith. I argue theology, and I point my finger.
I forget the beauty of the cross. I forget my come-alive rescue at the cross. I forget Jesus. I forget who He is and what He’s done.
I forget the who, and I obsess over the what, how, and why.
My rescue was and is simply beautiful. And like Hannah, when I am watching and remembering beautiful – I want to strive toward THAT. I want to be more and more like Jesus.
Focusing on Him and the cross transforms me, motivates me, and inspires me. Trying to follow rules and argue theology makes me want to throw my hands in the air and scream. I forget grace and get stuck in falling short.
I simply forget who Jesus was and is.
Do I need to obey His commands? Do I need to read His word and understand His ways? Absolutely.
But, if ballet is all there is? Hannah wouldn’t dance.
And if all I have are rules? I don’t want to follow Him.
We must focus on the beauty of Him. We must focus on the prize – the beauty of our rescue – the beauty of heaven – the beauty of the dance.
8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8
20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. Galatians 2:20-21
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2: 4-5
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. I John 4: 9-10
Isn’t THAT beautiful?