Deep within the soul of a little girl beats the heart of a dancer. When she was very small she would twirl around the room making her skirt billow out wide. She would dance standing on her father’s shoe-tops and spin and sway as her mother sang along with the radio. When she wasn’t dancing she skipped—down the halls of the church, across the playground at school, curls bouncing as her feet leapt with the joy in her heart. She got older and the times for dancing were set aside for studies, still she danced in her bedroom to her favorite songs. Life grew busier and dancing was reserved for formal halls in ball-gowns and high-heels. Then came her wedding day and she floated down the aisle of the church and danced with her two favorite men—her Daddy and her new husband. As they settled in to their new lives, he promised to hold her close in the dance of marriage.
But things do not always turn out like our little girl dreams. Cinderella was a fairy tale, but this was real life. Somehow the music faded and the dance was abandoned for work and kids and bills. Her prince charming turned out to be just a flesh-and-blood man who had no energy for spinning across the room anymore. Every once in a while the sound of music stirred something in her heart, but dancing seemed a far distant dream. One morning she woke up and realized she had forgotten all the steps. Maybe it was better that way, because her dance partner had walked away leaving her a broken woman with no heart for the dance anymore.
Sometimes this life can just knock the breath—and the joy—right out of us. We start out well, full of dreams and enthusiasm, but real-life struggles and heartaches come along and we find those dreams fading and our excitement waning. Perhaps you are not a dancer at heart, maybe deep inside you are a teacher or a singer, an artist, or like me—a writer and speaker. Maybe your dream is not so big, but you have a God-given desire to step into something that would bring God great glory; yet you also have a past that has weighted you down with shame and regret. You have been places you shouldn’t have, entered into relationships you wish you hadn’t, faced hard things you can’t seem to overcome, or had someone else’s choices leave you broken and hurting. You think, “I can’t dance (or whatever that desire is in your heart), people know my past and they will not approve.” My friend that is the very reason you need to tie on your ballet slippers again.
In the story that surrounds our key verse, David is making a second attempt to return the Ark of God to Jerusalem after it had been captured in battle. His first attempt was a humiliating failure that ended in the death of one of his trusted men, all because David failed to follow the rules about transporting the Ark. He made a mistake, a very costly one, and for a season, left the Ark at a random home and walked away from it, angry and defeated. But God burdened his heart that the Ark needed to be in its rightful place, so he learned the right way to get the task done and set out once again to bring the Ark home. And on this attempt, David actually did something that was quite undignified for a king, “dancing and leaping before the Lord,” and he got called out for it, by his wife no less. She said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would” (v. 20). David’s answer: “It was before the Lord [that I danced]” (v. 21). He didn’t care what she thought because God was glorified in David’s dance and his people loved him all the more for it.
Here’s a little secret you may not know: everyone has a past, no one gets through life without stumbles and failures and regrets. Those people that are watching you are just as wounded and broken and hurting as you are. They may hide it well, but if you get close enough you will see that no one is as perfect as they seem. And the truth is, we find it very hard to relate to someone who glides through life unscathed. I don’t want to know that you did everything right in life—I want to know that you’ve stumbled too, but you got up and got back in the dance.
Why do we think we can’t live for the glory of God when we have made mistakes, that we have to sit down when we’ve stumbled in life? Everyone out there has made mistakes. If we all sat out the dance because of the mistakes we’ve made, no one would ever dance again. And that is all the more reason why we should dance or sing or create – to show the world that Jesus forgives and restores and makes life worth living again. The walking wounded in your world need to see God take the mess of your life and speak a message of hope.
Beloved, someone else has stumbled over the same rock that brought you down; let them know they can get back up again. Dance before the Lord with all your might. The world doesn’t need to see you dancing out of perfection, they need to see you dancing out of redemption.
Holy Father, with all the failures of my past, You still call me to dance before Your throne. Please use me to show the world that when we fall, Christ gives us hope and restoration and life. Start the music God, and let me dance. Amen.