I was raised in a conservative church denomination. Raising hands or “dancing” was frowned upon as it would draw attention to yourself. I’m also a very tall girl who took on this persona of never wanting to stick out at anything so I felt very comfortable in this “non-movement” environment.
So, God knew this middle-class white girl needed to be set free – to change, in so many ways. He began moving me out of my comfort zone of “hiding.” One of the earlier ways He did that was through my love of music…more specifically musicals. As long as I can remember my mother had Rodger’s and Hammerstein playing in our home most of the day. Even now I could sing any lyric to any musical written before 1983 without even having to think about it.
My senior year of High School, I landed the role of “Dolly Levi” in Hello Dolly. I couldn’t have been happier about it until we got to the “dancing” part! Not only did I have two left feet – I had years of spoken words over me that “we don’t dance!” Now, I was in a pickle… in the musical my character, Dolly Levi, actually teaches two other actors “how” to dance in the middle of a hat shop!! I went to the Director and begged him to re-consider that scene. He replied with a big “no” and I’m forever grateful that God used my “we don’t” to free me with His “we can!”
God knew who the “appointed” choreographer was of our musical. He was none other John Command, the lead choreographer for the Chanhassen Dinner Theater in Minnesota, and Mr. Command knew how to take command and lead. I was so nervous that I threw up twice before our “dancing scene” rehearsal. As I finally made it to the stage Mr. Command said, “Dolly – today we will dance!” He took my hands, moved them into position and said, “Relax and follow me.”
I can hardly put into words what happened next.
Before I knew it, I was gliding across the dance floor! Every limb responded to where it was supposed to go because they were in the hands of a gifted leader and teacher! At one point I wanted to look down to just watch my feet glide around the floor and I heard a very sharp, “Don’t look down, look into my eyes because I know where I am going.”
That was it…
Mr. Command knew where he was going…
He knew and I didn’t need to know…
I needed to trust, relax, and follow.
In the hands of the master, He made me look amazing. I didn’t miss a beat and my feet knew where to go.
Replicating that experience with the two High School boys I had to dance with on stage was another story! It was painful (literally) as we fought each other for the “lead.” But I didn’t mind, because in my lifetime I had experienced the unimaginable – I danced. It was a “parting of the Red Sea” moment for me. If it happened once it could happen again. I actually got brave enough to ask the choreographer to step in so “we” could demonstrate what dancing really looked like to my High School actors. (Ha!)
It gave me courage to dance with a master teacher because…
I felt free,
I felt beautiful,
I felt like I was created for this,
and I didn’t mind who was watching.
God filled me with “everlasting joy” that day when he gave me the role of Dolly Levi and invited me to dance. You see, I believe that Hhe doesn’t waste a single moment of our lives and that opportunity was really God’s invitation for me to give up control and be in The Master’s arms. What a redeemer!
When we dance with Jesus, he’s got the lead.
He’s gripping your hands as he’s guiding your feet.
It’s the music of the love in the dance we call life.
So follow his steps as you gaze in the eyes of Jesus!*
Twenty nine years later, I’m now in full agreement with my sister in Christ, Beth Moore, who wants to have the song “Shackles” by Mary Mary played at her funeral. The first line is: “Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance…I just want to praise You, I just want to praise You!”
I’m attaching it just in case you want to get ready to dance with me. I’m not afraid of who is watching anymore, after all – I’m not leading!
(*lyrics from a song I wrote called “Dancing with Jesus.”)
Photo courtesy of asmorod at freeimages.com