DANCE AND THE DISHES: Delighting in Jesus in the Midst of Daily Duties

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I was a new mom, thrilled with the gift of a baby daughter and filled with vision for raising her unto the glory of God. I couldn’t be more thankful for her life, and the privilege of being able to stay home to nurture her and the other precious children the Lord would give in time. Yet I was also coming to grips with how dramatically my life had changed. My growing responsibilities at home made it necessary to rearrange my schedule and scale back on some of my favorite activities. Some of the highlights of my days were to attend prayer meetings where I was able to worship and seek the Lord with my entire being through the Word, song, and dance. The reality of Psalm 149 filled my heart with great joy!

“Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation…”

 One evening I had been looking forward to attending a prayer meeting all day. However, I must have had an extra full day because once I had put my baby down for the night, an extremely large pile of dirty dishes lay glaring at me from out of the kitchen sink. I knew what my responsibility was…what would honor my husband, care for our family, and thus glorify God. The dishes had to be done and the prayer meeting missed. I knew that my service mattered to God, no matter how small and mundane. He had been showing me that through his word for several years, preparing me to be a wife and a mom. What I was not prepared for was how he would encounter my heart through his word while I was doing the dishes!

As I was scrubbing and rinsing, thinking about how much I wished I could be at the meeting, the verse from Matthew 28:20 began to resound through my spirit, “And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.” It felt as if one of the lightening bolts from the throne of heaven (Rev 4:5) must have struck my heart, and I began to weep. The revelation that Jesus was right there with me while I was doing the dishes overwhelmed me! As awesome and right as it is to gather with other believers to seek the Lord in prayer and worship, it was just as right that I seek him with all my heart in the hiddenness of my home, in the midst of my daily duties. He was with me!   He is with me! He will always be with me…to the end! He is worthy of all of my love and life in the great and noble tasks as well as the small and mundane ones. I knelt down and repented for all the times I had despised the daily duties of life as a wife and mom rather than used them as opportunities to encounter and praise Jesus. I acknowledged that one day in his courts is truly better than a thousand elsewhere. (Ps 84:10) Wherever I am, because the spirit of God is dwelling within me, can become the courts of the Lord where I meet him through his word and delight in the joy of his presence! As waves of mercy and joy washed over me, I got up and began to dance and sing. I sang the scriptures that the Lord had brought to mind. I put expressive movements to the songs and verses, and I had a truly glorious time! Every few twirls, I got some dishes cleaned, and by the end of the time, not only was the kitchen clean and put in order, but my heart was freshly cleansed and rightly ordered as well. Ten years later, I can truly say that chore time at my house has never been the same! Yet, I don’t always feel overwhelmed by revelation of the love and glory of God. I can still be tempted to see my ever- increasing (now that I have five children) daily duties as drudgery. In these moments, as the Lord gives me grace to fix my mind on his glorious word, to open my mouth and begin to sing his wonders, and to move my hands and feet to express the joy of my great salvation through Christ, the joy of the Lord floods my heart and strengthens me with grace for another round of laundry, dishes, wiping, and working….not to mention the eternal work of loving my husband, children, and neighbors for his glory!

I know that I am not alone in the desire and struggle for delight in the midst of duty. Gloria Furman has written two books recently, Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ when your Hands are Full that have encouraged my heart to continue to press on in this regard. In addition to singing, dancing, and praying Scripture, I also find that my spirit is strengthened with grace in the middle of routine tasks when I listen to Christ centered, Bible based sermons and meditate/memorize scriptures that speak to the anxieties and concerns on my mind. There is nothing more thrilling than growing in the knowledge of God! The command of the Lord in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!” has become a compelling invitation to delight in the living God in the midst of all the diverse moments of my days. He has turned drudgery into dancing to the praise of His glorious grace!

 

 

Jesus Sets Captives Free!

This past week I had the privilege of leading a team of dancers to minister at The Next Door ministry in Knoxville.  We went as part of a larger team from Fully Alive Ministries and Christ Church Knoxville to lead a Bible study for women who are in desperate need of having their lives restored and set free from great bondage.  My wonderful mom-in-law, Kathy Tarr, passionately and tenderly spoke the heart of God over them from John 4 which tells of Jesus and His encounter with the Samaritan women at the well.  As we worshipped over the Word and in song, I could see hard hearts being softened and blind eyes being opened.  If Jesus loved and transformed a woman such as the Samaritan, living a life of great sin and shame, surely there was hope for them too, I believe many were thinking.  In fact, it was what I was thinking too, as the gospel of Jesus Christ pierced my own heart afresh.  The truth that Jesus set His affections upon me and gave Himself for me, not because of anything in me, but while I was full of sin and hostile towards Him (Ephesians 2) overwhelmed me anew with the glory of His great love and mercy.

Truly Jesus came, and continues to come by His Holy Spirit, to fulfill the words of Isaiah 61, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of prison to those who are bound, the proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;  to grant to those who mourn in Zion–to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;  that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”

After the testimony of Jesus had gone forth in song, Word, and testimonies of salvation, our little team of dancers stepped forward to minister a song by Matt Gilman,  Every Captive Free whose lyrics draw from this very passage among others.  In the dance, three women are covered with black blankets with words of bondages written on them such as depression, addiction, immorality, anger..etc.  A dancer representing the Spirit of Jesus comes out and one by one begins to set these women free.  As each woman arises, she begins to dance the same dance of freedom over the others that are still bound as a picture of the beautiful ministry of the Church as the body of Christ to proclaim His glorious gospel.  Truly our own hearts were encountered by the love of Jesus for these women, even bringing several of us to tears while we were dancing.  At the end of the dance, as a call to turn from the their life of sin and receive the free gift of eternal life in Jesus was put forward, the great majority of the women responded to His invitation.  There were many tears, many smiles, many hugs, and resounding songs of praise going forth from that home that night.  Jesus was setting captives free!

Dance that Testifies to the Worth of Jesus

When I see someone dance as an offering of worship to the Lord, no matter what they look like or how “skilled” their dance may be, I see the worth of Jesus reflected through their movements and on their faces.  This week I had the opportunity to see some women that are a part of a Biblical Foundations of Dance class I am currently teaching at my church, Christ Church Knoxville, simply move across the floor pouring their hearts out to the Lord through movement.  I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Jesus who had captured these beloved ones hearts.  This was not easy for all of them as many are just learning to dance before the Lord. That they humbled themselves before the rest of us and stepped out in faith was such a gift!  I was more in love with Jesus after that class and inspired to pour myself out for him in all spheres of life because of watching these women move in faith.

I’ll never forget reading an article written by Sam Storms about the time when he saw Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic for two-thirds of her life, dance and how it moved his own heart to worship.  I have included the link to this article and encourage you to read it.  I pray the testimony of Jesus in her dance will inspire you to love and worship the Lord with all that you are.  May He graciously break down every excuse and every hindrance that is holding you back from fully and freely expressing your heart to Him!  “I Saw Joni Dance” by Sam Storms