I had a wonderful chat with a dear friend yesterday and she said something that has stuck in my head ever since.
"We are not dancers who worship before the Lord, but worshippers who dance before the Lord."
We were talking while walking in the rain with this small, fragile umbrella over us, so I was processing her words while trying to get to the library as soon as possible to avoid being drenched. I showed my agreement with what she said.
It was a few moments later, as I soaked in the words spoken to me (and the rain at the same time) that I realised the full impact and richness of what she communicated within that one sentence. For some reason, those words invoke certain feelings of joy, peace and love each time I recall them. I cannot fully verbalise those feelings, but I shall attempt to capture snapshots and frames of the convictions that have arisen out from this.
Often times, we like to think of ourselves as taking on a particular role. We like being in a position where we are assigned a certain role with a certain label attached to it. For example, we are the “singers”, the “preachers”, the “teachers”, the “dancers”, et cetera. We cling on to these titles and make them our identities. We think things like: “I can sing well, so I must be a singer.” “I know the best dance moves, so I will be the dancer.”
Of course, often times, we do not articulate them so explicitly but rather, these mindsets creep in insidiously when we are least aware of it and these strongholds have taken up stance against the pure worship that our Lord desires. When we operate under this mentality, we first focus our attention on our talents and abilities. We take up our “roles”, back them up with our talents and gifts, and attempt to worship God in our self-defined roles. The dynamic here is this – that the role or position takes centre-stage while worship comes in second. With reference to the original quote, I am first a dancer and one of my tasks is to worship the Lord.
Yet, contrast this to the latter clause, which says: we are worshippers who dance before the Lord. In this mindset, first and foremost, we are called to be worshippers. Forget the roles, positions, duties or tasks. The primary “role” (if you like to call it that) is being a worshipper. And one of our expressions of worship is through dancing.
Every time we come before the Lord, we come in adoration and the awe of the one King of heaven and earth. I looked up the word ‘awe’ and the meaning of the word gives the idea of fear, veneration and wonder. Each time we stand before the Lord, we are in the presence of a being who created all things – every atoms, crystal structure, every muscle, ligaments, joints and tendons in our bodies, every grain of soil, every drop of water and every breath of air that we take in. We stand before a God who is almighty and powerful, who bows before no one but subdues the even the greatest kings and nations. We stand before a God who breathed life into us, and who can just as easily take it from us in the blink of an eye. We stand before a God who we know so little about, yet one who calls us into submission to His plans and agendas. We stand before a God who calls us to life in His Spirit and to His purposes that are good and everlasting.
When confronted by this supreme being of pure goodness and light, there is no place for man-made roles to take centre-stage. The only worship that will be acceptable is one that is done with clean hands and a pure heart, a heart that desires to delight solely in the Lord, a heart that waits and anticipates as a bride awaits her groom, a heart that is ready and willing to be filled with the joy and the peace that transcends all understanding.
And in that place of adoration and awe flows the expressions of worship – the dancing, the singing, the speaking, and so on. When our heartbeats are aligned with that of the Creator and our spirits are attuned to His, and as we allow Him to pour into us, we will be so filled with His joy and His peace that we express the abundance of grace poured into us freely and openly before the Lord.
Each time I recall those words, my heart tingles with joy and throbs with excitement. I am first and foremost a worshipper of the Lord. And I shall dance freely before the Lord, in His peace, love and joy and covers me.