Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dancing With God

“And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep.  Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.  So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.“ – 2 Samuel 6:13-16

I never learned how to dance because I was raised to believe dancing was a sin. To explain the basis of that belief would take too much energy, so please hear loudly – this is not MY belief now.  But, having never learned to dance, even now dancing is one of those things I’m not comfortable doing in public.  I become self-conscious of my every move, with thoughts of “am I doing this right”, and “does this look funny” and “is this a 1970’s disco move”?  I’m afraid of the onlookers, the “Michal’s” that might be watching, and their condemning gazes that I would say that I don’t dance “right”.  Oh, to be able to dance like David – fearlessly!

It was a great day of celebration.  The Ark of the Covenant was being returned to Jerusalem.  This large box was not only a historical Holy element of worship, but the Mercy Seat of God, where God would meet with His people (Exodus 25:17-22).  Once before this day, they had tried to bring it to Jerusalem and when the oxen carrying it stumbled, Uzzah had reached out his hand to keep it from falling, and when he touched it, he fell dead. 

David had become fearful of the Ark at that point, and detoured to the house of Obed-edom, and left the Ark there. But after three months, David had heard of God’s blessings and the prosperity of the house of Obed-edom.  He decided to go back and again try to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. 

As the Ark entered the City of David, there was music and great celebration at its return.  David entered wearing a linen ephod, an expensive garment used in worship.  Sacrifices were given as the Ark entered the city! Horns and shouts were sounded! And David, King David, was so excited that he danced. He danced with ALL HIS MIGHT! He was whirling and twirling, and filled with the joy that can only come from doing God’s will and being in His presence.  He was dancing with God, and delighting in every move.

Yes, there was an onlooker as David danced.  It was his wife, Michal.  Prideful, she despised David, and said to him, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” Her concern was with how the King looked before everyone who saw him – not how he looked before God. 

When I go to church, I see people dancing with God.  The music is playing, and there is singing.  There’s a spirit of celebration when we enter God’s presence.  God is to be celebrated. 

Some will waltz, swaying back and forth, side to side, in a gentle embrace of His love. 

Some will shed tears, with faces lifted to Him and arms stretched open wide, humbled by His presence.

Others will be filled with a nearly inexpressible joy, jumping and shouting. 

Some will raise their hands in complete surrender to Him. 

Some will stand, heads bowed, hands down, listening for His voice, His every word.

But each one dances with God in his own way.  True worship is not dictated by anyone, but is a dance where God gets to lead. 

Have you ever watched a married couple dance? You will notice that she will humble herself to allow her husband to lead.  She may lean on him, as he caresses her back.  She may have a quiet whispered conversation with him as they sway.  She may shed a tear or two at the love they share, which somehow seems stronger or more evident as they dance. 

Yet another couple may dance together lively, each step less choreographed, as the wife frees herself to however the husband decides to move.  They make take up more of the dance floor than expected!  And yes, sometimes there is laughter! And sometimes there are loud shouts of love and encouragement!

But there will always be onlookers, the Michal’s.  Some will not understand what they see because they’ve never experienced it.  Some will even stand in condemnation of it, thinking it was all about putting on a show for those who watched.  Perhaps they have never felt the freedom of an intimate relationship, the pure love of acceptance.   Perhaps this just isn’t the way they think a mature married couple should act.

Often in worship, there are Michal’s that will not understand.  They don’t understand what they see with their eyes.  They don’t see God in true worship.  They don’t think this is how true worshippers should act.  They simply do not understand the dance, the movement of the worshipper in the embrace of God. 

We all dance differently.  Just because my way is not your way does not mean either way is wrong, as long as God is leading.

John 4:24 says “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  What your eye sees is not all that’s going on.  The spiritual truth of worship is unseen. Worship is an act of love, not duty.  Jesus said in Matthew 22:37, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”  You cannot see the heart.  You cannot see the soul.  You cannot see the mind.  

The only evidence of love you can see is in actions.  It has often been said that love is a verb, a verb being an action.  But yet we sometimes want to limit love to words when we worship.  What if in marriage we limited love to words, and not actions?  Would the relationship be as strong?

David’s reply to Michal explained his dance.  He said in 2 Samuel 6:21-22, “It was before the Lord, …. Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight….”  David was not dancing for Michal, nor anyone else’s pleasure.  He was “before the Lord”. And his resolve to dance with God was the same before her criticism as after, because it felt good to be humbled before God, to let God lead.

When God leads you to dance, be humbled to submit to His move, whatever it may be.  Let Him lead, regardless of the onlookers.  Worship in SPIRIT and TRUTH is what He desires.  Don’t let anyone rob you of that.  Worship intimately.  Dance with Your God.

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