Go Down Dancing

Irish-woman-dancing-edited

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing;
Thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness
That my soul may sing praise to Thee and not be silent.
Oh Lord my God, I will give thanks to thee forever.
Psalm 30:10-11

My sweet Father passed away 14 years ago. He was a figure bigger than life to me when I was a little girl. He was 6’3, an extrovert’s extrovert. He would often whistle, sing hum, and wiggle and dance through life. His nickname in college was “slick”. Because he had grown up as a depression child with much sadness, he lived his life as an adult with as little acknowledgement of sadness as possible. He worked hard to provide our family with the ability to enjoy life and have pleasures that his own family had not been able to afford. I didn’t get a lot of personal, one on one time with him. Very little, as a matter of fact. But there are a few, sweet memories that live in my soul as exaggerated in size because of the rarity that made them so precious.

One sparkling summer evening, when the summer roses and honey suckle wafted through the breezes of the night, I was allowed to attend an adult party with my parents. Probably a wedding or social affair of some sort. I remember dressing up in a sky-blue, polished cotton dress that was adorned with delicate eyelet lace and belted about with a satin sash. My black-patton shoes, it seemed to me, were just made for tapping or dancing on the floor where all of the jewel bedecked, rouge-faced women were swirling and laughing with their husbands. Visions of romance marched through the corridors of my girlish mind as I dreamed of a future day when I would be on the arm of my very own partner, gracefully and lightly gliding over the floor.

Suddenly, my handsome, smiling father swept over to the place where I was standing and easily picked me up into his arms. “May I have a dance with the princess of the ball?” My feet hung limply down, as He held me tight in His strong arms and easily swung my 4’8” frame round and round the dance floor. I could smell the spicy aftershave he had lightly rubbed on his face as we danced cheek to cheek, and breathed in the warm, spicy aroma. The bubbling excitement and pride that I felt at that giddy moment, being in the arms of my hero, who always appeared bigger than life, left me almost breathless. I treasured each second with delight. The smiles and admiration of the other doting adults were not lost on me. Finally, the music came to an abrupt stop. Gently, my father glided back to our dinner table in his long strides and set me lightly upon my chair.

“Thank you for the pleasure of your company, sweet princess,” he affectionately said, as he turned to find my mother.

I haven’t visited this lovely memory in many years. Yet, it is a picture to me of one of the ways I have come to view my own relationship with God—dancing through life, with deep joy and gratefulness filling the core of my being, as I am held and cherished in the arms of such a great, admired and worthy partner. He picked me and carries me and celebrates life with me, because of His love, affection and kindness.

The older I get, the more I have come to cherish with great delight the joy and beauty my creator has generously bestowed on me—not because of anything I have done to deserve it—but because His very character is life and love and giving and celebrating and redeeming and creating.

I want to live at that place in my heart where I have come to know Him as such a person. I want to respond to His love with deep, passionate, grateful appreciation. I want Him to know how deeply I am beginning to appreciate all that He made in this world that I might experience pleasure and know beauty and rest in redemption.

I have struggled to get to this place. The onslaught of darkness of an enemy who is jealous of the glory of my precious Lord relentlessly pursues me every day, seeking to destroy the wonderful picture of my Lord that I have learned to cherish in my heart. Satan would love for me to focus on that which has been tainted with the stain of selfishness and destruction of sin. He would love for me to be ravaged in my soul with the fears that a post-modern world, filled with violence, a loathing for all that is pure and lovely, brings.

Yet, he seeks to deceive me on other sides, to doubt the reality of my prince. I am surrounded by those who live in the chains of legalism, a rule for every move in life, an air of condemnation and suspicion for those who celebrate the authentic joy of life, a life of worry, fear and condemnation. These have lost the vision of their Warrior King who has layed down His own life, that they may have unending joy. Satan has deceived them into doubting and ignoring that light that is surrounding them, if they would but open their soulish eyes. These, Satan would use, to drag me down with them to the place of bitterness and harshness and oppression of soul, oppressed by my own inadequacies.

Yet, in order to continue to live beyond the oppressive blackness of the night, I must live with the ears of my soul straining the hear the music of the One who is creating, restoring and bringing life to a glory that will envelope and swallow up all darkness. I must look with the eyes of my heart for the beauty and color and design that every day shouts to me of the creator behind the luminous colors, powerful sounds, lovely words and thoughts that speak to me of His reality. I want to go down dancing—end my life, choosing every minute until its close, to celebrate the reality of His life with the fullness of faith and loyalty my king desires, living in the freedom of His gracious love, looking for the time when we will celebrate, in the final banquet, the victory He has so long ago preordained.

“Praise the Lord! Sing a new song, And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones. Let Israel be glad in His Maker;
Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise His name with dancing;
Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.
For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation. Let the godly ones exult in glory;
Let them sing with joy on their bed.
This is an honor for all His godly ones.
Praise the Lord. Hallelujah!

Psalm 149

Responses

  1. Thank you, Sally, for encouraging me! As a mother of 5 who seems to be fighting her hormones, it can be easy to be discouraged. And yet, the last few months, I have clung to the verse, “The joy of the LORD is your strength.” His joy, in me, makes me able to praise Him, and strengthens me for the tasks of loving my family. And miraculously when I choose joy and trust Him, he opens my heart to all the beauty around me in those he’s put in my life. I say, Amen! to what you have written. Keep boldly celebrating!
    Your sister in Christ,
    Sharon

  2. Sally …

    Your blog is excellent and encouraging. Keep writing as God shines through …

    Love your story about dancing with your Father …
    thought you might appeciate the thoughts below from one of my blogs
    http://carpentershand.blogspot.com/2007/02/lessons-from-dead-and-dying-2-focus.html

    Sometimes we struggle to find our way through it all and make sense of it. I had the most wonderful freeing revelation a couple of months ago that has just stayed with me. I was reading in Jn 14:6 where Jesus says he is the Way, Truth and Life. Thinking of Jesus as the way I had my normal thought of a narrow path with Jesus pointing along the way to travel (I think influenced by a picture I saw when I was 10). Anyway the thought came to me that Jesus is not the guide on the way … he said he IS the way. So then this means that he is the path. All I have to do is put my feet on him – the path. This made me think of a friend’s little girl. She loves to dance on her Mum or Dad’s feet. She doesn’t know how to dance … she doesn’t know the steps but it doesn’t matter because all she does is put her feet on theirs, holds on … looks up and off they go … dancing, whirling, twirling, spinning in a glorious celebration of the moment.

    This is what God would have us to do. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know the steps or the way through. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know the path ahead. We just need to put our feet on his … take his hands … look up at his face and laugh … be recklessly abandoned to him. His grace is sufficient and HIS hands and feet are sure.

  3. Thank you Sally for loving our Lord so infectiously. Your words of love and faith and encouragement have strengthened me today. I find myself in a place in my life where I need to glory in my Lord and live with the life everlasting. Praise God for His Spirit at work in all of us. It is a privaledge to Honor the work of His son Jesus by living a joyfilled life! Amen!

  4. Sally,
    Thank you for expressing your joy so clearly. I am beginning to come out of the darkness of losing a child 2 years ago and I so long to walk in joy again! I thank God he led me to your blog today. I can dance again! And I will dance again! Thank you…

  5. I enjoyed reading your blog today! Thanks for the wonderful words. What a great way to start the day!
    Blessings,
    Debbie aka The Real World Martha


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