Freedom to Dance
I dance and sing because of my God and king
I dance and shout for joy because He is my lord
I swing and twirl, like little boys and girls
I know who I am
And I am Free
Am I inhibited or am I free?
Every so often Zephaniah 3:17 comes to mind: the idea that God is not only a warrior, not only loving, not only kind but that He delights in us. The word “Rejoice” in this verse actually has Hebrew connotations of “exceeding joy” and “spinning around”. It far overshoots the idea of happiness and it becomes an outward display of God’s joy in us. Every time the Lord brings this thought to mind it slows me down and humbles me. For many years it even created a confusion in my mind because I would think, “How could this be? Have you seen my life?” But there is something much deeper and more beautiful going on here. God isn’t acknowledging me because of my good behavior. He is acknowledging me based on His plans and purposes in my life: the identity He’s given me as a son.
As I grew in understanding my identity as a son my freedom increased.
I didn’t grow up as an orphan physically speaking. I had two loving parents who wanted and cared for me. But spiritually there was a time in my life where I was an orphan, separated from God by my sin and destined for destruction. So when I accepted Christ as my savior and asked him to wash me clean of all my sins a mindset change needed to take place. Minutes before I was an orphan, and now I was a son.(Colossians 1:13, Eph 5:7-8, John 15:15) While the spiritual reality took place immediately my understanding of who I would take decades to be worked out. The reality is, I was no longer who I thought I was. I was something new. (2 Cor 5:17). This newness one life (Ephesians 2:6) isn’t just some metaphorical idea. It's not some gift wrapping that makes the outside look nice while the inside is still junk. No, He did something radically different in me. On the inside, I was a different person. I had a different identity and sooner or later I would have to come to grips with that.
My internal renovation brought about an external transformation.
The verses in Zephaniah prove God’s delight in us. They are a few of many verses that remind us that God’s salvation plan for us was much more elaborate than just giving us a ticket to heaven. His transformation of us literally took us out from under the law and moved us into His good graces (Galatians 5:18, Colossians 1:13) He wasn’t satisfied with just crucifying our sins. No, Jesus was looking for a bride with whom He wanted to be intimate with (Song of Solomon chapter 4) Everything changed. We are no longer enemies of God, in fact, He calls us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). What extravagant love! (1, John 3:1)
Law always binds us, but Grace inspires us
After we get done saying, “How can this be?”, we begin to ponder the magnitude of who we are. We fall to the ground in humility and repentance. We begin to experience our newly bought freedom. This is when we see Jesus step onto the dance floor. We’re laying there in a puddle of tears and He begins to dance. He begins to spin around, shouting shouts of joy. He begins to celebrate us and every time your eyes meet you see a smile on His face. How can this be if I’m an orphan, just a wretched sinner? The thoughts are fleeting as you realize by the look in his eyes that sin isn’t even on his mind. He meant it when He said, “as far as the east is from the west”. (Psalm 103:12). Never again would sin be the focus of discussion. From this point forward it will always be relationship, intimacy, peace, and love.
God’s love for me is supposed to be felt, not just another intellectual endeavor.
I imagine it must feel similar to what the woman caught in adulatory felt like. One second embarrassed by her sin and publically discarded; soon to be dead. The next moment all accusers were gone and Jesus was standing there offering her a hand up off the ground. “Go and sin no more, your sins are forgiven”. (John 8:11) What?! The thought of “that's not fair” crosses your own mind and then you realize it's your own forgiveness that you’ve just received. What? How? Who are you? It’s that last question that rings the loudest. He is Jesus and now you are his child.
Extravagant love beckons us to Him.
On the dance floor of life, as I’ve dwelled on the fact that I am His and he is mine (Song of Solomon 6:3) and I stop trying to figure out how that happened (because you can’t “logic” it out). I’ve found great comfort in him offering His hand to just dance. Sometimes He leads and I follow. He says to step right, then left, back and spin around. But other times in even more amazement He asks me to lead. In those moments I tend to want to think like an orphan again, but when I realize that He’s the real dancer, and He’s not leaving me but inviting me, I have the confidence to trust, to step out and believe that He’s got me, even if I make a wrong step.
Keep on Dancing
In a dance, there is an intimacy between two people. They can almost read each other’s minds as they respond to one another. There’s no time to worry about bills or what you have to get done this weekend or what are people thinking about my life. Are people staring at me? There’s no time to think like that. There is only breathing in the moment and focusing on the dance. There is only closeness with your dance partner, Jesus.
And allow Him to woo your heart
As I return to Zephaniah I find the words “woo” my heart. He draws me near to show me what He’s up to and give me a chance to partake in what He’s doing. And as it turns out, He designed us for this very thing from before time began. That was always his idea. We were made in his image after all. Designed for intimacy (Gen 1:27, John 17:22-23, Isaiah 65:24, Jeremiah 31:3, Psalm 63:1-11, John 3:16)
“Jesus, you are the most amazing dance partner! You’re humble even though you have much that you could boast about. You're gentile even though you have tremendous strength. You are patient even though I’m often slow in responding. You’re compassionate even when my fears turn into anger at you. You never stop believing in me. Thank you. Please don’t stop. I give you permission to woo my heart that I would begin to truly understand who I am in you. Help me understand my identity so I can live from that place. I want to join you on the dance floor. Show me how. I choose you as my dance partner. Amen”
About the Author
Jay has been working with teens since he was in 7th grade and God radically got ahold of his heart. His background is in all forms of family and youth ministry, Bible and the like. He is the father of three amazing daughters and been married to his wife for 17+ years. He aspires to encourage the church to be “all that she can be” in Jesus by encouraging individuals to be firmly rooted in Christ, healthy families, and gospel sharing congregations.