Dance My Hands (repost)

Joy and dancing go hand in hand – whether you expect them to or not.

My father-in-law loves to tell the story about my lovely wife Cara when she was a girl. It was a common rule not to jump on furniture, but children sometimes just get overwhelmed with the desire to break the rules.

At one such time, Cara’s parents walked in on her using a bed as a trampoline. The typical response came: “Cara, what are you doing?” While parents view this as a rhetorical question, children do not. Cara was quick on her feet (pun intended) and responded with, “I’m jumping for the Lord!” Now, her parents could have followed through a fitting punishment had they been able to control their laughter. But, praise God, they had grace enough to laugh and take joy in the creativity of their daughter.

As a father of three girls, I’ve had my share of opportunities to dance. (I am the only prince in the house, you see, and I’m high in demand.) When she was about 3, my eldest daughter Anna put on her Cinderella gown and say to me, “Dance my hands, Daddy. Dance my hands!”

How could I refuse such an offer! Yet many times, we parents do refuse these precious requests from our children. We have to finish something first or are too tired for it right now. Sometimes all our children really want is for someone to watch them perform. They aren’t looking for a critique of their latest moves.

They simply want to know that they are loved enough to be given our attention.

In that moment, we have the opportunity to squelch their little hopes or to reveal to them the great love of God.

I didn’t always view God as a joyful person until I spent some time in Zephaniah. In the midst of words against the people and the nations, the hopes of God’s people must have been desperately small. In Chapter 3, God begins to talk about the future of Jerusalem including a devastating time of correction and cleansing because of their sin.

But then, God removes their fear and says, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17). Our strong God saves us and becomes our last hope – the only hope we’ll ever need. And when we should be standing in praise of Him for His great work, He quiets us with his relentless love and sings a joyful song about us.

“Dance my hands, Daddy. Dance my hands!”

I ignore the so-called important tasks that need to be accomplished. I reach out my arms to uphold my little girl, and we quietly, joyfully dance.

It’s the little moments that add up to the big ones.

About a year or so later I had a big moment with my little Anna. As we knelt by her bed to pray one night, Anna asked to pray.

Dear God, thank you for Jesus. Thank you that Jesus came. Thank you that strangers came and took him away and hurt him. Thank you that they put him behind a rock. Thank you that Jesus came up again and that he’s in heaven right now. And God I want to go to heaven someday, but just not right now. And I know that Jesus is going to come back to get me. And when Jesus comes, I wanna do my ballet dance for him.

In those little moments, we have the opportunity to squelch their little hopes or to reveal to them the great love of God. When I take time to dance with my girls, they see a father who loves them and takes joy in them. They want to perform all the more!

At the same time, they are also learning that there is a Heavenly Father who loves them and takes joy in them. They want to perform all the more assuming that their Heavenly Father would enjoy their performance as much as their earthly father. And rightly so – because He does.

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