Fear of Dancing

The Spirit of God dances. He can't be tamed. He won't be contained. He refuses to be confined to a weekend retreat, an evening meeting, or even a moment of devotion. He doesn't follow schedules, programs, or agendas, and He doesn't wait for His name to be called.

   The Spirit of God dances. He dances right under the noses of those who don't believe in dancing; and He dances right on by those who do. He dances through the assemblies of the keepers of the dance, and right on out the door — and no one sees Him go.

   And as the dancers continue the empty steps of their pantomime, the Spirit of God dances on out into the streets. He dances by the harlots in the red-light districts, by the victims of AIDS in lonely homes, by bag ladies in the inner cities, and by struggling farm families across the plains. He finds the orphans and widows and dances through the lonely pain of their lives. He dances through the camps of hungry children, through the crowded streets of the oppressed, and past the wire where the South African woman is hanging out ragged laundry as well as

Page 124

by the scrubbed white faces sitting in church in the nearby city.

   Sometimes the dance turns to mourning, but always there's the dance. Happy dance or sad dance....the Spirit of God always dances.

   His favorite dancing places are those where the keepers of the dance don't want Him to go: on MTV, on drive-in movie screens, or on smoky stages with microphones that smell of whiskey. The Spirit of God loves sinners and dances best where life spills out on the floor.

   Occasionally He dances on the clean, sweet-smelling stages of the keepers of the dance — but not as often as He would like. He dances there when the keepers need Him: when there is pain, whenever life spills out on the floor. But usually the floor is clean and the dance is simulated, carefully choreographed by the keepers of the dance to use only those steps with which they feel secure.

   The Spirit of God refuses to be choreographed. His dance is raw, new, and jerky. It's not always pleasing to the eye, but His dance is fresh in the lives of human beings whose floors have not been cleaned up. It isn't well-rehearsed, polished, or perfect; it slips and slides, sometimes innovative and shocking and at other times just exhilarant, but it's always real.

   Most people, even those who pride themselves in their dancing, are afraid of this spontaneous dance. They're afraid of anything they can't control; and His dance is wild, unmanageable, even mad. But most important, it's vulnerable, open to criticism — the quality they fear most. So they must create their own dance of predictable steps and prescribed routines and send all their people through dance school — or outlaw dance altogether.

   But this should come as no surprise. It has always been this way. The Lord of the Dance himself was here once, and it was the same way then. He danced on the keepers' holy days and broke their holy laws. His timing — if not His whole dance — always seemed offbeat. He turned the tables on their dance in the Temple as He led a solemn dance of respect through their lighthearted nonchalance. He rode along Palm Drive atop a donkey at the head of the greatest hosanna dance ever.

   He wanted to turn their empty religious movements into heartfelt, joyous dancing. He wanted them to exchange the grip

Page 125

of the Law for the freedom of the dance. But they thought He was a clumsy dancer, always bumping into their traditions and stepping on their pious toes. He even danced with the wrong crowd, in smoke-filled rooms and on messy floors.

   Once He described His generation and declared, "We played the flute for you, but you would not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' "

   No, nothing's really changed . . . but the Spirit of God dances on.

Chapter 34  ||  Table of Contents