For everything that happens in life — there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, a time to collect the harvest;
A time to kill, a time to heal;
a time to tear down, a time to build up;
A time to cry, a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, a time to dance...
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 The Voice)
I wrote this poem after a very difficult dry spell in Thailand in 2001. During this difficult dry spell, I felt like the Lord had allowed everything, even gifts He had given to me, to be taken away. Robert Reagan, our mentor and missionary in Thailand, asked all of us as interns to write a verse about our relationship with God.
I was excited because I have always loved to write. When I tried to pen a verse to fulfill the assignment, however, we were in a period of fasting, and I felt as empty as my stomach. The day we shared our poetry, the others' writing was so transparent and humble before the Lord, and then it was my turn... and I had nothing to say. All I could do was cry.
A few days after, my dear friend and fellow intern, Jennifer, led a Girls' Weekend, and one night we sang the song "On Bended Knee." That song was resonating in my mind, and I could hardly sleep. Sometime between 3-4 a.m. that next morning, I got off the floor and went away from where the others were sleeping with my journal and flashlight and wrote this poem.
Blessings in Jesus,
P.S. The audio version uses my maiden name, Lisa Neusch, because I recorded this in Thailand quite some time before I was married!
Welcome to the Dance
I hardly knew You then,But my captivated heart led my feet in Your direction,Tears from deeper than my understanding glistening in my eyes.
My eyes locked on Your gaze,Your focus never leaving my face,You gently took my hand and drew me to Your side;And I was surprised at how perfectly I fit against Your frame,As if You were the interlocking piece that made the puzzle of my flesh complete.
When You danced that first dance with me, my movements were tense, untrained;I had never moved like that before, never danced with anyone so skilled,And it felt strange to be led in directions I had never intended to go.
Your patience did not wane even a fraction, though I often stepped on Your toes(Out of clumsiness and disregard, and even sometimes on purposeFor the dance I felt helpless to learn to my own expectations).
Through all my outbursts, my missteps, my tantrums, my lazy refusals to practice,You never once deserted me, never threw up Your hands in disgust,Never stopped applying the gentle pressure to my back that seemed both a comfort and a burden.
And there have been times I have left the dance, left You standing there alone,Your lips not moving but the woundedness and integrityAnd unwavering love in Your eyes speaking volumes to me.
I have left You, am ashamed to recall my last departure not so very long ago.But I could never stay gone for long, and You never once moved away from me,The circle of light following Your every move, not dimming by so much as a flicker.
Every step I take in this dance that never changes but never stays the sameWeaves my heart more closely to Yours,And every leaving cuts my soul more deeply.
I can see now that You are teaching me new steps to lengthen this sequence;Though I am still a poor student You command my full attentionAnd graciously wait for me to follow.
Sometimes this dance takes us to areas of the floor where I don't want to go,And in my stubbornness I rebel and push at You,Your arms sustaining me without crushing my bones but often leaving bruises.
And sometimes I get distracted by the crowd that often gathers to watch us dancing,Wanting to show off for them in spite of myself;And when I twist my ankle and my weight buckles from the turn,You look at me with a measured patience I cannot begin to understandAnd lead me back into the steps.
There are times when I try to lead, pushing You even though Your weight won't budge under my shove, futilely urging You to step my way,But I only confuse my own feet and relent again to Your direction.
There are times when You hurt me, and though at first it seems maliciousI soon realize that You are only stretching me to improve my flexibility,Simply testing my muscles for the more difficult steps ahead —And all this toward the beauty and magic of the dance.
This is Your dance, after all;Why You chose me to move with you I can't imagine,But I don't really want to stop even when the steps seem too complicated,And You have never asked me to leave the dance and become a mere spectator.
I can't find the words to thank You for the adventure of this dance —The language of my heart is too coded, too complex —But You will always know my desire by my presence,And I trust that You will never drop all I have placed within Your hands.
Welcome again to the dance.