Dancing with God
“Man sings gospel as he watches his home burn in northern Alberta” Canadian Press headline read on May 31, 2019. Indeed, Pudgin Wanuch knew there was nothing he could do as he watched the wildfire consume the only home he’d ever known.
He parked his truck outside the church in the evacuated northern Alberta settlement of Paddle Prairie, pulled out his guitar, sat on the tailgate and sang. I imagine the Lord was dancing with Wanuch as he once danced with Job.
“I knew my house was gone,” Wanuch said, “so I sang some spiritual gospel songs. I was praying to God, to give my family and community… to put more faith in ’em.”
Now that is dancing with the Lord in my book! The concept of dancing with God echoes with me in many wonderful life experiences. Sometimes we dance because life is to be enjoyed. God dances with us and at times he wants to lead, like when he invited Peter to step out on the water.
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the dance, said he,
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the dance, said he.
(Hymn “Lord of the Dance”)
The hymn highlights some of the Lord’s dance on earth: I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun… I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame… I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black; / It's hard to dance with the devil on your back… But I am the dance, and I still go on.
Sometimes we dance because God’s gift of life demands it. There is the marriage dance! Adam awakes from a deep sleep finds one standing by him in whom he recognises a second self, and joyfully exclaims, “This at last is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23).
Nikos Kazantzakis’ Zorba the Greek is about a middle-aged man who dances because life demands it. Zorba has had a family and many lovers, has fought in wars, has lived and loved. He is a simple but deep man who lives every moment fully and without shame.
Sometimes music expresses it best. Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass’s “Zorba the Greek” takes us through the steps of life: starting slowly, reminiscent of life’s dance, then lilting into a rapid pace. Then sweeping us up, carrying us away in the spiraling rhythmic patterns that echo our joys.
The joy of the dance brings happiness at every age. I remember my son dancing with his baby daughter. To settle her crying, he would sweep her up in his arms and sing her favorite song as he danced her into calm.
The Lord holds us in his arms and dances with us. I imagine that I danced with God when I wrote this message. This particular column got me out of bed a dozen times as I penned ideas. Then again!
Eventually I thought of the Country Cousins band, literally cousins of mine, who used to end each dance segment by singing “Sit down, sit down”. Finally I did get to sleep, after listing more ideas than will fit into this article.
Think of the many ways the Lord does dance with us:
He will exalt with joy over you,
He will renew you by his love;
He will dance with shouts of joy for you
As on a day of festival. (Zephania 3:17-18)