If I close my eyes, I can picture riding shotgun in my grandfather’s single cab Chevy pickup truck and listening to him sing (off key and loudly) to his favorite country music station. You could always tell when Grandpa really liked the song. He rolled the windows down, drove a little slower and sang even louder.
I remember one specific time when a song by Garth Brooks came on the radio, called “The Dance.” I remember at the end of the chorus, where it says, “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance,” my grandpa shared something in that moment that was so simple, but something that would forever impact me.
Grandpa shared, “Nothing you will ever face in this life is worth missing out on — it is all meant to be, Nick, it all will teach you something you need to know.”
The windows rolled back up a moment later as we pulled up to the ice cream shop and got our favorite ice cream … mint chip.
“Lord of the Dance” is a hymn written by songwriter Sydney Carter in 1963. It follows the idea of a traditional English carol that tells the gospel story in the first person voice of Jesus of Nazareth, portraying Jesus’ life and mission as a dance. Jesus commanded those who love, who obey Him, to fulfill the Great Commission in the spirit of the Great Commandment. 1 John 2:6 says, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”
Jesus has made it clear for His people in the dance we call life anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived. The song “Lord of the Dance” has a profound refrain that’s repeated throughout the song that says, “Dance, then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the dance, said He. And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be. And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said He.”
Now I can’t know the true intent of this songwriter when he wrote this song. Nor do I believe Garth Brooks is a great spiritual influence. However, both of these songs have pointed me back to my daily pursuit of God. For every experience our sovereign and holy Lord brings us to is by His perfect design. We must respond in obedience to Him and make choices that bring Him glory. When we do, we can learn and grow as we walk — or dance — as Jesus did.
We can’t say “I know God” and not abide in Him and not pursue a growing relationship with Him. We won’t dance through this life well, or in any way God the Father purposed, if we’re not truly abiding in Him. So, how do we do this? Through a consistent time in the Word of God, through being connected to other growing Christians and by being faithful to a local church family where the Word of God is taught in a way that glorifies the Lord and stirs us towards a deeper walk with God.
Everyone is out there dancing the best they can through this life. Jesus danced it perfectly and has called us to follow Him. We must be people so consumed with the goodness of God, and so devoted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ that we walk as Jesus walked, allowing us to live a life worth following as we make much of God.
There are some really poor examples out there. You don’t have to add to that number. You can purpose to grow spiritually and in community and dance in such way that the people see your dance — your faith and walk in the Lord, that they praise your Heavenly Father. Dance like this, in this life, and see then how your obedience to the Great Commission, in the spirit of the Great Commandment, brings joy to your life and to the lives of those God has placed within your reach.
Nick Emery is lead pastor of Hope Crossing Community Church in Carson City.