I spoke with a seasoned social entrepreneur the other day about his spiritual practices. How they matured and developed over the years. One thing in particular struck me. “The biggest thing I’ve learned as a parent,” he said, “is how I’ve returned to infancy—the older I get the more of a toddler I become. How God loves me, how I am his son—it’s like returning to childhood all over again.”
It’s a universal phenomenon: you marry, have children and a side of God’s brilliance that you’ve not yet seen shines into your life. If you can stand the magnificence you won’t just learn, you’ll find yourself transformed.
I thought back to two days prior. Brielle, my three-year-old danced for me in her ballerina dress. Back and forth she danced across the living room floor pitching glances at me to make sure I was watching. And I was.
“You’re a beautiful dancer, Brielle. I love when you dance.”
“Thanks, Daddy,” she said through her toothy grin.
I wanted to sit there all morning. I’m God right now, I thought, caught in the rapture of my child’s dance. Then I thought, I should dance more for God.
But what about the other times when my girls don’t dance, when they fight or disobey? At times they refuse my help, which leads to hurt. They stamp around doing what they want until they fall. Then they run to me. I scold. I reprimand. I bearhug them back into peace. They climb into my side, restored.
I am a child like that I thought, stamping around doing what I please—busy, not dancing, clamoring for the fading jewel of worldly success.
Peter helps me here. The impetuous apostle, Peter stamped around saying and doing what he liked. He was like one of the “believers” at the so-called Triumphal Entry screaming “Hail Jesus, King of the Jews.” The next week, those same people screamed, “Crucify him!” Peter must have thought Jesus was going to bring a real sword and overthrow the government like those “believers” at the Jerusalem gate. He was the gung-ho hooligan fisherman.
“You shall never wash my feet!”
“Then you have no part with me.”
“Where are you going?”
“Where I am going you can not follow.”
“Not follow? What are you saying? I will follow you into death!”
“Will you really follow me into death, Peter? Even tonight you will disown me before the rooster crows.”
Huff and puff, and stamp, stamp, stamp. But Peter had Christ all figured. Peter played on the couch when he knew he shouldn’t—then he fell and had to be put back together again.
I am like Peter, a brash child thinking I have it all figured.
Jesus wants us to dance. He wants us to sit with him in the olive garden and pray. But we want to cut off someone’s ear to prove to him that we’re all in.
“Put the sword down, Peter, just dance.”
For a full day I thought of this entrepreneur’s words and how I, too, understood better how to be a child of God. When I’m not stamping around doing my own thing I find delight in the faith dance. I clamber up into his side and sit in his embrace.
Being in L.A. I walked to the ocean at sunset to ask God what he wanted to tell me as his child, his son. I wanted to dance. I wanted to listen.
The sky was a great conflagration—a brushfire eating up the horizon. I stood alone, except for one petite woman some fifty feet from me. She’d left her boots twenty feet behind her and stood barefoot as the tide rolled up from the spitting whitecap crashes. The wind blew cold from the west. How cold must the water be? But there she stood, in the coal-light of the shadowy sunset, her sweatpants sagging in the splashing wet. The water washed up deeper and covered her calves. As the tide grew stronger she kept taking steps further out. As she moved closer I, still in my boots, stepped back.
The sky beckoned us both but only she removed her boots and walked in towards it.
“What do you want from me, Father?”
“I want you to watch the woman inch closer, in the frigid water, toward the brushfire I lit. I want you to take off your boots and step in the icy ocean and walk towards my glory. I’m not here to scold or reprimand. My glory beckons my children into dance.”
I untied my boots and stepped into the water. It was cold.