Monday, January 26, 2009
To the Music
As I was cleaning my desk, I found this wonderful piece by Betsy Childs, from A Slice of Infinity, from July 2007. It was so fitting to where God has me, and made me want to dance in the aisles of Aldi's next time I go shopping!
I once heard historian Randall Balmer tell a story about the time he and his wife decided to take ballroom dancing lessons. They learned to count out the patterns of steps and tried to coordinate their feet while at the same time remembering the sequence of steps for each dance. Learning the form of a dance can be more stressful than it is relaxing, especially for a beginner.He then recounted an incident that took place shortly after their dancing lesson. They were on a routine shopping trip, and as they pushed the cart down the flourescently lit aisle, a song began playing over the p.a. system that meant something to them. Caught up in the emotion brought on by their song, Balmer and his wife began to dance in the aisle.
It wasn't a dance that the dance instructor would have recognized; the dance was their own expression of the love they shared.Couples who are truly proficient in any kind of ballroom dancing could perform a graceful dance without any music. To waltz, one need only keep count in series of threes and follow the steps; music is not essential.
While I imagine that a perfectly executed waltz is a thrill to perform (I wouldn't know), the dance that Balmer and his wife preferred was the one in the supermarket. In their dance class, they had been trying to keep track of the beats. In the shopping aisle, they were following the music.
I believe this is as good an illustration as any of the difference between legalism and faith lived out. The first sees a list of rules and tries its best to conform to the rules, to keep in step, and to avoid mistakes. Legalism is often deeply sincere. It may not spring from a desire for superiority, but from a genuine desire to learn the dance.The alternative to legalism - I'll call it "living faith" - may produce results that are nearly identical to the fruit of legalism. People who live by faith will conform to many rules, and faith leads to all sort of righteous acts. But while legalism is the imposition of external behaviors, living faith springs from the Spirit.
Does your faith feel like an exhausting effort to keep up with an impossible beat? If so, you might be living with a legalistic mindset, forgetting the love that is meant to be at the heart of the life of your soul. God is not waiting around for us to get our act together; He is wooing us, and He wants us to experience his love. If we don't really know or taste his goodness, our attempts at righteousness will bring us nothing.
The psalmist entreats us: "Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth burst into jubilant song with music" Psalm 98:4. God doesn't want outward conformity; He wants us to be so full of his glory and goodness that we can't keep still. If you've learned to dance without music, slow down and listen. God has spoken to us. Let his promises and his pledge of faithfulness guide your steps, and you will find that a dance will spring to life.