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Dance Like He's Watching

My little girl loves to twirl and dance. She loves anything that involves a stage, microphone, or mirror. A certainly spunky little twinkle shines in her eyes as she tilts her head to one side and grins ear to ear at the mere mention of having an audience. She confided in one of her sisters that she really does not like going to ballet class because she has to follow all the rules, but we all know nothing makes her soul soar like recital time. It's all over her. It's who she is. She shines on that stage and comes to life. That is not to say she is an expert dancer. She's only just finished pre-ballet, after all.

What I am saying is that dancing is in her bones. God alone gave that passion and confidence to her and God alone will be ever able to take it away.

I have not always - or ever - known what to do with this particular trait of my girl. It came from none of us. On an exceptionally free day in an exceptionally empty house or car, I might bust a move or two in my kitchen or my car, but a dancer I am not. From the time our little ballerina was a tiny toddler dancing to the tune of her daddy's whistle with that same mischievous, toothy, confident grin, no one has had to tell me that God's plans for her would far exceed my expectations or abilities. That girl is made out of something I've never seen before and I'm entirely confident God is calling her to greater things that I could ever lead her to.

Do you remember being like that as a little girl or boy? Do you remember trying your best to catch the eye of your mom or dad, hoping beyond all hope they would see you doing the one thing you loved best? What little girl hasn't twirled in front of her daddy in hopes he would tell her how beautiful she is? What little boy hasn't looked up to his dad and hoped to be as strong as he was one day?  My little dancer could not look less like me, but all I see is myself when I catch her vying for my attention and approval in the mirror of that dance studio or on the living room rug when she is pretending it is her stage. 

I do it, too, sister. I do it, too. 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:11-12

At this point in my life, for a thousand reasons, I am learning to be so intentional about whose face I am seeking. I have spent too much of my life hoping to catch the eyes of certain people, smiling my prettiest smile, dancing until my heart nearly exploded to the beat I just knew they wanted me to dance to, giving it all I had in hopes of a little applause, a little affirmation, a little approval. It rarely came and when it did, I was not left with a sense of accomplishment, but of compromise and shame instead. The Lord alone knows our purpose. He alone has equipped us with the passions and purposes that fall in line with His perfect plan.

God alone gave those passions and purposes to us and God alone will be ever able to take them away.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and I seated at the right and of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2

For most of us, a whole lot of life has happened since pre-ballet class. We have fallen and we remember how badly it hurt. We have trusted and may never forget how betrayal felt. We have followed people and been led astray. We have served and been beaten in return. We have loved and lost. We have prayed until our voices grew hoarse and then sat in silence until it was deafening. Sin has come in its various forms, sometimes enticing and sometimes appalling. We've danced with it all. Now, we aren't sure that devil will ever let us forget it long enough for us to find our feet again.

There's a whole cloud of witnesses who could tell us the same story. Their stories of courage and bravery, the accounts of how God came and made His power and glory known right there in their finite and flawed flesh are all the courage we need to throw off the mess that has been weighing us down, tripping us up, holding us back from all God has for us. We cannot underestimate the ripple effect of our obedience. You tell yourself no one could possibly benefit from what you have to give.

I know.

I do it, too, sister. I do it, too.

Maybe you don't come from a family of dancers. Maybe no one in your life can even hear the drum your heart is beating to. Maybe you are made out of something they've never seen before. Maybe that is the point. Perhaps that is the purpose. I'm not sure that she was seeking it, but little orphaned Esther did win favor in the eyes of all who saw her. The king himself loved her more than all other women. He showed her grace. He showed her favor. He crowned her as queen. None of it happened for her glory, but for the Lord's.

"Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, "Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's home will perish. And who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:13-14

Esther's people were in danger. Her loved ones were threatened. By God's sovereignty, she had been placed in a position of prominence, gifted with passions and purposes, at just the right time. God was faithful to place her there. He gave her the opportunity to trust Him and to be used to deliver her people, but, as her uncle made it so clear, she had a choice to make. She could disillusion herself and believe her position would protect her and remain silent or she could see the responsibility that came attached with her role. She gave heed to the warning, requested intercession, got on her knees herself, and then got up, went and did the thing. What her people could not see before saved their lives later.

It is not likely that any of us will ever become royalty or save an entire people group from ruin, but we can sure make a difference for a few. The warnings are all around us. What would happen if we paid closer attention to those warnings, to the Lord, and to His Word than all those spectators we are trying to impress, even and especially the ones in the mirror? What if we kept our eyes on our Father and threw off everything that has been holding us back and just did the thing? What then?What would that look like? What if there is something we cannot yet see that might save lives later?

Oh God, remind us who you made us to be, who we were meant to be from before the time we were tiny toddlers dancing to the tune of our daddy's voice because we had not yet been told we shouldn't. We think we are so big. We think we have learned to play it cool and we have this all figured out. You see us as the children you created and you bid us to come to you. Father, help us to come. Help us trust in you again. Help us to trust you enough to dance and sing and write and teach and go and do everything and anything you made us to do. It's all over us. It's who we are. Grant us the courage to throw off everything that's holding us back and finally do this thing so that we can watch you do your thing. May we seek your face and your glory alone.

"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." 
Matthew 18:3-4


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