(a written account of a recent Sunday Morning worship encounter).
As I entered the sanctuary I knew, deep in my spirit, that this team of dancers who had come to lead our worship service, were themselves encountering God with abandoned intimacy.
I felt a sense of excitement as I watched this visual worship through dance. And yet, I did not have a high level of personal expectancy. I was there more because I wanted to support diversity in worship styles and pray through the service.
I always sit in the second row of pew chairs, but the front row was taken down to give more room for the stage, and thus, I found myself sitting in the front row. (This is important because of the access it gave me to the dancers).
My first encounter was finding my eyes locked with one of the young dancers who was literally 2 feet in front of me. Without missing a movement, her eyes invited me to move more deeply into the arms of Jesus. The invitation was initiated by Him; it was His eyes reaching to me through her. Her hands even gave a brief “come to me” gesture.
I recognize the eyes of Jesus. I have seen them at least twice before. Once when I was a young nurse, I encountered His eyes in a tribal Bolivian woman who stood, nearly naked, beside a jungle river. We had no words to communicate, but eye contact kept us riveted as we acknowledged a belonging far deeper than words could ever take us.
The second time was when I was being interrogated by police in China. Widows, who lived in the church and prayed, came down and made a circle around this little scene of what to me was terror. No one spoke a word, we had no words, but I made eye contact with one of them. That was enough to assure me that all will be well. It was not until 3 weeks after I got home that I recognized I had seen the eyes of Jesus.
And now, through the eyes of this young dancer, from Arrows International, I have seen them again.
In reflection, I know that this eye contact was a preparation for what Jesus had planned for me a few minutes later in the service.
It happened in the context of what was introduced as “David’s Song”. One dancer depicted the person whose life was alternately being torn between victory and defeat. Six dancers fought over their subject; three, dressed in white, symbolized angels and the presence of God, while the three competing dancers symbolized demons and darkness. A story, told through dance, of a young man who knew Jesus, struggled with addiction and, at first glance, lost his battle.
But as this dance began, the story of David disappeared for me and I was watching the story of my friend, Jean. Her story was being demonstrated for me as she celebrated victory over mental illness and addiction only to once again be caught in the claws of the enemy. Jean and I walked together for 35 years. Her death, now 2 ½ years ago, was a devastating double loss for me. I not only lost my friend, but I lost my paradigm of faith.
How could I reconcile the God I knew, whom I had served in pastoral ministry for 30 years, with the God who let my friend die in the most brutal way possible? How could He have abandoned her?
I have pushed myself into believing that God is good because of Who He is. I tell myself this decision cannot be based on a life story that, through my eyes, contradicts. When we sing about the goodness of God, I join in. I confess it. I teach it. I have pictured, in my mind, that Jesus was somehow there, even though there was no evidence of it to me. People who watch my life think I have victory over this thing that shattered both my heart and my faith.
But Jesus has known that I needed another step of healing.
It happened as this dance of David’s Song concluded. Though my eyes, it was Jesus Himself, who came dancing into the scene of the defeated child, brought Him back to life and welcomed Him to eternity.
Jesus knew I needed a picture of Him being in the Las Vegas mobile home, picking Jean up from her battered state and welcoming her to the only place she would ever be able to settle.
Jesus danced this for me. Yes, Jesus danced this for me.
I’m reminded of a little verse that I wrote, during my days of turmoil. I made it into a song that I often sing to Him.
“Open the window that I might see You, open the door that I might walk through, into Your arms as you lead me along, to the beat of Your heart, and the dance of Your song.”
On a recent Sunday, through the ministry of Arrows International, Jesus opened the window and danced for me.