Hello my loves.
It’s T-Minus 1 day before I start on my way towards Hungary. “My bags are packed, I’m ready to go…”
Gahhhh, Pasadena is so close I can taste it. Hungary? Hungary still doesn’t feel concrete right now.
Anyways, I decided to articulate some similarities between passions here – I believe dancing can be derived from a clear definition of missions and a relationship with God. Crazy, crazy…but hear me out. I just wanted to write something entertaining before I went to bed (if I can even shut my eyes due to the adrenaline rushing right now). So, shall we?
1. The Lead matters. So much depends upon the quality of a lead, especially in a dance. When I was a beginning dancer, my lead could either make me look amazing or downright clumsy. It all came down to how sensitive they were to the follows needs. If you are a Christian, you believe that Jesus is that perfect lead who gives you just the right amount of tension, excitement and quality of dance. He never fails to swing you out when you want to, but never stops you from adding your extra swivel moves in between.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” ~1 Peter 2:21
2. The Chase. The Christian life, much like a good swing dance, is an exciting adventure. Instead of the arduous trudge of a mediocre rock-step-step, God treads the line between energetic Lindy, passionate Balboa & joyful Charleston. Somewhere, there is room for the soul of Blues. God is forever faithful through all seasons of my life, whether I’m feeling like I’m ready to smile or bury my head into my blankets. In darkness or dawn, He chases after us regardless of what we’ve ever done to Him. There is a crazy love where the Father chases after His children. A good chase that leads into tandem Charleston requires the follow to be fully aware of the lead’s movements, much like a good disciple must learn to see what God is leading them to. However, God chases us regardless of whether we know it or not.
“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” ~Luke 15:20 NIV
3. Trust in Me. Whenever I try to follow someone I have little to no faith in, it always ends badly. I don’t trust them to spin me the right way or execute a move correctly, so I tend to do my own thing. The end result. DISASTER. Legs usually tangle up, I barely end up standing and people look at my stumbling Balboa like a joke. But…if I close my eyes, breathe and just let myself follow, everything turns out alright. God tends to push us to new heights and experiences quite outside our prescribed comfort zones. The edge is terrifyingly steep with a fall eons down…but only to know God’s own sacrifices do we have the faith to lay down our own selfish wants. The follow who doesn’t believe in her lead fails not only him, but also herself. She “back-leads” and makes everything quite messy. In dance and in life, a certain measure of trust creates a functional relationship.
“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”
― Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
4. Traveling. Missions, missions, missions. “It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it.” You know that quote from the Shim Sham? It’s quite true when peering at the idea of Christian missions. It isn’t about where you go or who you minister to, but how you do it – out of earnest love and compassion for God’s kingdom. Souls are at stake here. If the way that you do it turns people down because it comes off as Bible-thumping or unloving, you gotta shim sham your way back to the heart of the Gospel. How did Jesus sacrifice? He gave everything up to those he loved, despite the fact that people crucified Him. It is an act of absolute humility and bravery to lay down your own life for the good of others. In swing dance, it doesn’t matter how far you travel, but if you’re along for the ride. Those who are disengaged or unwilling to budge must be forced by their leads, but the end dance result isn’t too pretty.
“It is better to lose your life than to waste it.”
― John Piper
5.Practice makes…Well, what does practice make? It makes better, it hones your skills, it makes you more comfortable to move on with more complicated moves. Practice makes the dancer, as practice makes the missionary. The so-called good missionary practices what she preaches. She doesn’t forget to preach the Gospel to herself while simultaneously witnessing to others. The greatest mark of an advanced dancer is the willingness to dance with everyone and the ability to make them look stunning. I have an acquaintance who criticizes everyone’s dance moves the moment he hits the floor with them. Everyone feels judged and dejected by his harsh words. A truly advanced dancer would use encouragement and their own abilities to make a dancer better through sheer exposure. Similarly, missionaries shouldn’t aim to criticize or suffocate others with their cultural “dominance.” Instead, we are there to learn from the people as much as they are to learn from us. It’s a give and a take, not a dictatorship.
“We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.”
― David Platt, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
“Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.”
― George Carlin
There you have it. Five start up reasons why dancing parallels good missions and a healthy relationship with Christ. Follow me as I head to Hungary to teach in a refugee camp!