This year's annual dinner was quite an interesting experience for me because I finally had the opportunity to dance before the Lord.
I believe this opportunity to be from the Lord and not by random chance. It just so happened that I was sharing with Ivena over dinner one day about my desire to dance for the Lord, especially holding the banners for Him. The Sunday that week, Doreen asked me if I wanted to hold the banners for Annual Dinner. I was rather amazed at this timely "coincidence". It was truly an opportunity that the Lord had opened up for me to serve, according to what I had asked of Him.
Now that I have had a chance to perform on stage, I now know the amount of effort and labour that goes into preparing for the performance. Indeed, many hours of practice and correction goes into preparing for a few minutes worth of stage time.
The practice sessions have taught me a lot about commitment and what it means to work with other people. There were times when I thought of skipping a session or two, because I was lazy and unmotivated to go for them. Yet, I am reminded that God had opened up the door for me to worship Him with banners, and so there is the expectation that I would actually put into the effort and commitment into it. I would usually start off by asking myself why was I doing it, but as the sessions elapsed, I found myself enjoying and learning much from them.
Those sessions have also taught me what it means to work with other people. During practice, there are inevitably different people with different capacities and talents. There are people who learn more slowly than others, and there are people who are not as good as others in picking up the skills and movements. It is these times then that I am challenged: Do I look at them condescendingly because they are weaker, and I am better than them? Do I smile in satisfaction because I've got it, and they haven't? These are definitely some of the temptations that I face personally. It is definitely a challenge, then, for me to learn what it means to believe in another person who's "not as good" as me and to push and encourage them, to build and move them instead of looking down upon them.
Sometimes, it is truly a test of faith and patience when you are confronted with mess ups and with people who just cannot seem to get the moves right. But this is where the team spirit is of utmost importance. Every member is important and needs to be encouraged. After all, we are only as fast as our slowest person in our team!
Sometimes you wonder - hey, I already get the moves, so why do I even need to be here? Truth is, we are not individuals doing solo performances, but we are a team, one body coming together to worship the Lord. Therefore, the reason that we need to be there is so that the whole body can mobilise together. There may be some parts of the body that are still not performing their functions at their best, but it takes the whole body together in one piece to coordinate the whole dance movements in synchrony rather than having each part do its own thing.
Another challenge that I faced during practice was setting the right focus for it. A lot of the times, the practice sessions become, for me, rather mechanical and repetitive instead of a meaningful time that is set apart for the worship of the Lord. I guess I still have much to learn in this area - to see purpose and opportunities to bring life into each and every practice session. I find that sometimes these sessions become, for me, merely time to get things done and over with instead of times that I get to spend with people, sharing in the journey and learning from their lives. This is definitely a challenge for me to be more attentive to the people around me during practice.
When all the individual parts started coming together such that I could finally see the whole flow of things, it made me fired up and excited about it. It wasn't until we practised along with the dancers and with the music that I could finally see how things would work out, and how the movements would fit in with one another. Seeing things fit together really makes you excited to see the dance being perfected and you start realising the relevance of all the different parts that you've learned in isolation.
I think the biggest thing for me though when we practised with the music was that I was able to catch the spirit and the meaning behind the song, and to allow the joy and excitement that was brewing inside of me to just be expressed through each movement of the banner. When I was immersed in the depth and richness of the words in the song, there was just suddenly this part inside of me that went alive and just wanted to express itself through the swing of the banner.
And true enough, the song chosen for this year's annual dinner was truly a powerful and meaningful one - God of this City. To believe that the God that we serve is the God of this city. To believe that the Creator whose purposes are true wants to bring His life and goodness into this land that we have planted our feet on. To believe that there are so many greater things to come, and so many amazing things that the Lord wants to usher into this beautiful city called Melbourne.
When you raise the banner high proclaiming all these things, there is a sense of honour and privilege to be part of the Lord's army, marching into every corner of the city ushering His edict and will into every sphere of life. There is this sense that you are a rallying point of people from all nations, from all four corners of the earth, calling them to arms, calling them follow the leading of the Ark of the Covenant to take possession of the land.
I do realise that sometimes, you might be self-conscious about your performance so as not to make a mistake and end up embarrassing yourself and disrupting the dynamics of the team. Now I truly understand the tension between performing well and worshipping the Lord. There is this sort of balance between doing it right, yet knowing at the end of the day the first and foremost thing that the Lord desires is our worship and our calling people into the adoration of His purposes and goodness. I shall definitely not take lightly the tensions faced by the worship team ever again!
Yet, at the end of the day, it truly is all about the worship and adoration of the Lord, and calling His purposes onto this earth, this land that we stand on, and to bring people to the place where they can be immersed in the faithfulness and truth of His promises for this city.
I believe that although we as a team made several mistakes tonight during our performance, we have done our best and we have committed it to the Lord. I believe that we have gotten the message across to the people, and that they have been able to catch glimpses of the Lord's purposes for this city.
All in all, I must say that it has been an amazing experience working with the team. It has truly been amazing standing together as a team for the Lord, to have fought this battle together and to have walked the journey of learning and experiencing with one another.
I praise God from the bottom of my heart for this amazing opportunity to not only explore dancing, but also for the wonderful lessons that He has taught me along the way. I definitely look forward to more of such opportunities in the future.
And all for His glory. So let it be.