December 2015; almost 3 weeks after the passing of my dad. I remember sitting, with my older sister on her living room floor. It was the very first time I had allowed myself to cry since the day he died. The kind of cry that comes straight from the core of your belly. The kind of cry that is always accompanied by a physically aching heart. And somewhere between these cries, I remember her saying we were going to pray. That I was going to pray.
When I started my first year at Stellenbosch University, I can’t say l had really understood the importance of salvation. I was fresh out of a Bible-based Christian school, and could quote all the right verses so that you would probably believe that Jesus is my very best friend. Not because I was trying to manipulate anyone, but because I just hadn’t had a real revelation of my own. It’s what I thought “walking with Jesus” was meant to look like. So when my dad passed away, I was not very keen on staying in Church. I wasn’t really involved much in Church, I didn’t have many friends, and I definitely didn’t read my Bible – I don’t think I even owned one at that point. I had no real reason to stay. In fact, I only stayed because the then Youth Worship pastor had shown some interest in my life. She messaged me. She called. She checked up on me. She didn’t know me at all, but she went above and beyond to just walk it out with me. So I stayed. For her. And God stayed. For me.
I recently read a blog where a psychiatrist, Abigail Brenner, describes the dance of relationship in the following manner: “Dancing is comprised of a series of movements that are combined and often repeated where two people move in sync with each other’s steps. The result is a coordinated effort that often looks easy and effortless, but where you know that that look mostly comes about when people are familiar with each other, are in agreement to be in sync with each other, and have practiced the dance long enough together to where it becomes second nature.” She continues to say that “sometimes these steps are verbalized, openly stated so that the people involved understand what is expected of them in the relationship. Sometimes these steps are never discussed, so it’s the actions between people that define what is going on in the relationship.”
For as long as I can remember, God has used the imagery of dance as a way to teach me about us. About the outworking of my salvation. He has taught my feet to dance upon disappointment. He has reminded me of a song, the one He wrote for me, and we have danced. But most importantly, He has taught me to trust Him to take the lead. So much so, that even when the song changes, the transition will be flawless. Because I take my lead from Him.
That day, I prayed. I didn’t talk much about how great He was. I don’t think I even said the whole “In Jesus Name” part. I was very angry. I was very hurt. I was grieving. But I remember whispering to myself “I don’t know if I can lose anything else. You may just be all I have.” And that’s when I started to see God really move in my life. It was in the middle of what the enemy meant for my harm, that God exposed me to some of His good plans for me and His Kingdom. I hadn’t realised it at the time, but it was also then, that I stepped foward and took hold of the Hand that had been saving the last dance for me.
One of my dad’s favourite songs to play on our road trips, was the Ronan Keating version of ‘I Hope You Dance.’ And everytime it came on, without fail, he would turn up the volume and sing it like it was the very first time. A few days ago, while listening to the song, I was that little girl again. Watching her daddy come alive and singing to her with the utmost passion. I had never really taken the time to read the lyrics of the song. But even in the fun of singing every word, God was already preparing me for this dance.
God had been there. The day my dad died. The day I prayed. The day I decided to stay in Church. The day my dad’s first Bible was given to me. The day it became my first Bible. The day I moved to Stellenbosch. The day He told me about Hillsong College. The day I left Stellenbosch. But my most favourite part about Him being there, is that He always waited patiently for me to take hold of His hand. He allowed me to make the choice.
In 5 days, I leave for Sydney, Australia. And in 7, my journey at Hillsong College begins. I don’t know what the next few steps look like, but I trust Him. Because He has never led me where He doesn’t go.
“And when you get the choice,
to sit it out or dance… ”
I hope you dance.