Dancing. So my husband and I have been taking dance lessons in preparation for our daughter’s wedding. I love to dance, but let’s face it, at my age and season in life, that opportunity usually exists only at weddings! Even so, I have done my share of dancing over the years. In high school there were dances, cheerleading and the prom. After high school, weddings and reunions, and the occasional visit to a club. But my dancing has almost always been freestyle. Two people dancing together but really independent of one another. Two people listening to the same music, but sometimes moving to a different beat.
Couples dancing is a whole nuther thing!
The music is the same, but now we are connected. His hand is firmly planted on my upper arm to guide me. I must learn to mirror his moves. I have to get comfortable with not seeing where I am going. And the hardest thing of all? I have to let him lead!
In fact, if I were to be honest, this can be a challenge not only on the dance floor but in life. I like to lead. I like to be in charge of where I am going. I like to do things my way. But now I have an instructor who is standing an arm’s length away, watching me. And my husband knows that in this situation, on the dance floor, it is his right, no, his responsibility to lead. Whose idea was this anyway?
So, as happens in stressful situations that we don’t like, I have found a coping mechanism. I close my eyes. Yes, you read that right. When we are dancing and I feel the impulse to lead, I close my eyes. I have to listen to the music and rely only on the guiding hand of my husband on my arm. I realized the instructor caught on when he said, “Even if you close your eyes, Lynne, you still need to keep your head up.” Hey, whatever works. Maybe he can offer this to other women who struggle with wanting to lead, like me.
It occurred to me after one of our dance sessions how much this is like my relationship with the Lord. How life is the music and I am going through it freestyle. Sure, God is there, just a small step or two away. But we aren’t connected. Sure, we are listening to the same music, but sometimes I am moving to my own beat. Why? Is it because God has pushed me away to dance on my own? No. It’s because I like to lead. To be in charge. To see where I am going. But that isn’t how we were meant to dance, God and I. I was made to let Him guide me. I don’t always need to see where I am going – nor would I always want to if I could. His desire is for me to mirror His moves. It’s time to close my eyes, concentrate on the music, and let God lead me. Maybe it’s time take some dance lessons with God. How about you? Are you in step or out of step with God?
“…because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Gifts. Don’t you just love getting presents? Even more than getting them, I love giving them. Especially when you know you’ve nailed it ~ you have found that one just right gift for the one special person. My daughter is engaged to be married and, like many brides to be, she has a gift registry at several different stores. She was recently honored with a bridal shower and I had the best time perusing the various registeries and picking out the perfect gift. As is often the case, I got her something I would love to have ~ admit it, you have done the same thing! In this case, it was a slow cooker. My slow cooker (the third since I have been married) has served me so well over the years, and I know my daughter will be blessed to have one.
An acquaintance of mine recently celebrated a birthday. This proud father has several young children and he shared with his friends on Facebook the wonderful surprise his children got for him. It began with a treasure hunt to find out what the present was and in the end he found a handmade certificate good for one Ipod. He asked his children, “Who is going to pay for this?” to which they responded “You!” Don’t you just love that! But isn’t that so like children? They want with all their hearts to give us something they are not capable of giving us without our help.
The other morning I was praying in the shower. Too much information? Well, that’s where I often pray because it is a quiet time to reflect. I was preparing to speak to a group of women and I began to tell the Lord that I wanted this to be my gift to Him. I then started to ask Him to give me the strength to get through the engagement without paralyzing fear. To give me good recall of my talk. To help me to be a blessing to the women in the audience. To speak His words, not mine, with power. As I began to let loose with my list of petitions, a thought cut me off. It was the thought of my friend Phil’s post on Facebook. Suddenly, standing in the shower in the same way I came into this world, I recognized my own tremendous need. Like a child, I wanted so badly to give my Father the most wonderful gift. And like His child, I realized that without Him, I was incapable of giving Him that gift. All that I am,and all that I have, come from Him ~ all I can do is give back to Him, with praise and glory, what He has already done and given to me. I hope He finds my efforts, my delight in wanting to give to Him, my naivete, as sweet as I found Phil’s children to be. I have heard my pastor say many times, “You can’t out give God.” So true.
Praise. We love it, don’t we? We are told we need it ~ we all need an atta boy or atta girl sometimes. I am pretty sure I heard that in a song. We have built a whole teaching module around it called self-esteem. Praise. Affirmation. It’s a good thing. But how often is it misplaced or misused… or just plain missing.
Our culture has gone over the top with praise ~ and I question the worthiness of the praise we lavish on people and things. Seem harsh? There were almost 2 million viewers who watched men and women wolf down hot dogs as part of a competition. One was named a champion. Big word for such an accomplishment. Open your web browser and look at what is trending on any given day. Read the praise filled comments for people who have been deemed celebrities. Look at how we have personified and elevated plants and animals. Praise. Praise. Praise.
We have no problem, as a society, openly and loudly expressing praise for creation and created things. Football stadiums filled with the deafening cheers of fans. American Idol audience members holding placards with messages of love for their favorite star-wannabe. Movie fans waiting patiently for the chance to get the signature of their favorite actor. Praise and adulation.
But what about praise for the Creator? We stand in awe of the works of Michelangelo, as we should, and praise his creativity and genius and talent. But what about the One who created, out of nothing, the alabaster that laces our earth? What about the One who created the indescribable colors of a wildflower garden? What about the One who created you?
Why are we so reserved about lavishing, loudly and openly, praise on our Creator, who is so far superior and worthy of our praise? Even in church, people are so reserved and seemingly inhibited to praise Him. I admit that I don’t praise Him as often or as loudly as I should. But there are times when I am in church when I just can’t sit still. One time I grappled with wanting so badly to stand and lift my hands in praise and worship. It should have been an okay thing to do ~ after all, I was in church. I was in the Gospel/Praise venue at our church, no less. But others weren’t feeling as moved as I was. I grappled with the urge to all out praise my Creator against embarrassing my family who sat beside me. And it was as if I could hear God say to me, “If you are embarrassed to praise and worship me in here, then what will you do when you go out there?” I immediately stood up and praised Him openly, loudly, perhaps embarrassingly. It’s time to get my praise on for the Creator ~ how about you?
“Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.”
1 Chronicles 16:9