Learning To Dance

It’s said that “you can never go home again” but what I thinks meant by that is that you can’t go back in time. And while that’s certainly true, at the same time it can seem impossible to move out of your past and into the present, let alone into your future! Despite all of that, earlier this year I did make a move! I moved my family from south-central to a new place in south-west Missouri,back to my hometown!

Not only my hometown,but to the very neighborhood I grew up in…

Even though I consider myself to be a sentimental person who as such is well acquainted with the “slings and arrows”which so often accompany it I’ll admit to being caught off guard by my subsequent reactions. It took a while for me to sort out why on a certain level I seemed angry about how so many things I remembered had changed! Like I was caught in the throes of some childlike egocentric fit over not having been “consulted”.

I didn’t say that the feelings were “right” only that I was having them!

Another thing I wasn’t really prepared for was the onslaught of questions that living in such close proximity to my past would move to the front burner of my mind or the rough terrain I’d have to traverse to find the difficult answers they demanded! Questions like…

“What the heck happened to my education?”

or

Just exactly where and how did my life “Jump the shark” so to speak…

 I want to make it really clear that this isn’t just some sort of pity party I decided to throw for myself nor am I attempting to fix blame on God or anyone else. Some of the events of my life have been rather unfortunate and apart from my aforementioned personal search for answers my intent or purpose in writing about them here is to encourage others who’ve had or will have similar experiences.Understanding our own issues of the past can be the key to moving beyond them into a better future! I can hardly express how important it is for me to be able to look back on my life and instead of feeling despair regarding certain aspects of it, to feel hopeful. Hopeful not only because I survived it but because I somehow found the courage to go on and the faith to believe there was something better waiting for me somewhere. lastly,to express my thankfulness to my Father in heaven who did then,and does now hold me in the palm of His loving hand!

I’d like to start with this video clip which was probably taken in the summer of 1971 when I was 10yrs old. As I watched it I remember being taken aback at how happy I appear to be! This video was taken by my father during one of the most difficult periods of my life,within a few months after my parents’ divorce.

The surrealistic background music provides a fitting contrast to the seemingly carefree display caught on the clip. It truly is a reality vacuum! Not only had my family recently changed in a not so good way, I’d also been the victim of significant sexual abuse on several occasions by people close to me. I’d recently become involved with a local church and had accepted Christ as my Savior, been baptized,and then when I stopped coming…forgotten.

I watched helplessly as my father who I worshiped became increasingly distant and more invested in his new life and family and less in me. I found out what it was to be hungry and to not have sufficient clothing that fit properly. And so at my lowest point,to then have my mother on whom I had become quite emotionally dependent begin spending a great deal of time away from me further compounded my feelings of insignificance. I was still just a bit too young to roam the streets after dark like my older brother…so I spent a lot of time at home alone.

When I watch this video…

I wonder what in the world I had to dance about!

And then it hit me…

I was playing the best cards I had in front of the one person I loved the most in the whole world! And despite everything wrong that had happened in my life up to that point in that moment,I chose to dance!

To block out everything else and focus on the only thing I felt had the potential to save me…

His love!

In my mind I was just doing what I’d always done…performing!

But what I was really doing was sort of the ultimate act of defiance.

I was in effect saying to the circumstances of my life,

You have not defeated me, you’ve thrown just about everything you could at me.

And guess what? I’m still dancing!

Isaiah 54:17

 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.

It still inspires me…But what happened after that? You’d think that someone with that sort of “sand” would probably go far in life. I think what happened to me, and what happens to a lot of other people too is that we eventually become convinced that there’s nothing in this life worth dancing (or smiling) for!

When the subject of my education comes up what happened is no surprise considering I’d been a dedicated addict for almost six years at the age of 17. What I struggle to understand is why my school counselors and administrative staff chose to ignore what was happening. I attended a vocational course in the mornings which I was bused to and from daily and then spent the afternoons in various classes. As that last semester of my junior year came to a close I believe I was simply overwhelmed by the assignments which were due. Not knowing quite how to handle that I chose to simply skip the last eight days of afternoon classes…and so I flunked the eleventh grade!

I understand that I wasn’t the only “problem child” they were dealing with but I wonder could they of made a phone call to my parents? Aren’t there policies in place concerning this type of infraction? One last thing,anyone that reads this who attended my high school or any high school in the seventies for that matter knows what it was like as far as drug use on campus is concerned,and so, after they failed as an institution to provide a safe and secure environment for students to learn in and I become a victim of that I’m appalled that they could then decide that the thing to do is throw me out!

This took place during a time when my mother was going through another divorce from her second husband and we ended up moving from an upper class home in an exclusive neighborhood into a small two bedroom apartment. I did enroll the next year at a different school and lasted maybe a month before my principal at vocational school suggested that what would be best for me would be to quit school and get a GED. I did get a GED, and that was basically the end of my formal education although in truth I believe I learned precious little from formal schooling past the age of about 12.

One of the most common, if not the most common things you’ll hear Christian ministers say is “God has a plan for your life” and of course I believe that! I also believe that our enemy has a plan for us too…I’m convinced that on the day I made that walk down the isle and knelt down at an altar to accept Christ as my Lord and Savor there was a celebration in heaven! I also believe there was an emergency board meeting in hell! That meeting’s purpose was to put the kibosh on the plans my heavenly Father had for me and subvert the role I was designed to play in ushering in His kingdom.My sense is that there must of been no small amount of surprise and disappointment expressed by the attendee’s that their earlier efforts on my behalf had had so little present effect on me.

Knowing that my souls redemption was a done deal at this point, their only remaining option was to try and stop me from doing what I had the God given potential to do and be in Gods Kingdom by whatever means available to them! I mentioned at the beginning the feelings I’d been having and what I thought they were related to. However at this point I’d have to say that they’re actually directed at the forces of darkness which have for many years stolen so much from me in this life. Who’ve worked diligently behind the scenes orchestrating circumstances and events in my life to do towards me what’s prescribed in the mission statement below…

John 10:10

 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Obviously there’s a disconnect between those two premises…

Genesis 50:20

 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

These are all life verses to me…

They give me hope,encouragement and peace in the midst of my storms!

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

King David danced before the Lord. Out of joy that the Ark of The Covenant had at last been returned to Jerusalem. David had to go through quite a painful learning process as he endeavored to lay down his will and surrender completely to God. In my life I’ve been challenged by similar lessons,it seems as though I too was following the example of the Philistines! Learning to trust that God truly does know what He’s doing allows me to be able to sit, (or dance) so that He can stand for me! The answers to our problems are still the same for us today as they were for David then! All of us have a God sized hole which can only be filled by drawing closer to Him! By staying focused on The Father, through our Lord who is Love,which is the answer,instead of on our world and it’s problems! If we can do that, we can also experience the continual joy of being in the Lords presence!

To me,that’s what “learning to dance” means…

Knowing and Growing!

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Just about everybody knows that one of the hardest things to do in this life is to be objective about ourselves. It can be very difficult to see yourself and who you are with honesty.To understand yourself as others do, to see the things they see that our own “too close up” perspective prevents us from seeing. If for just one day we could read peoples thoughts that we interact with…how would it affect us?

Of course we’re no different, everyday as we interact with others we withhold our observations. We think of it as a “kindness” we’re extending not to tell them about some deal breaking aspect of their personality. Instead we just smile politely and let it go, we’d rather not broach the topic at all based on our own “assumption of futility.”  There’s also the risk that sharing our observations with them might open us up to some unwanted emotional reaction or foist us into the role of quasi-therapist based on the nature and severity of their observed behavior or personality quirk. The reasons not to engage people are abundant and valid, however it’s often through this personal scrutiny by others that we have the opportunity to learn some very important things about ourselves.  It’s the stuff that we’re too thick headed to pick up from the subtle hints that people drop about for us.

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The realization of our own ignorance is always painful, and in my experience few things have the same power to motivate me to change as much as feeling as if I’m somehow the “Last to know”.

If we could know, or see, exactly who and what we are, and know the truth about the hindrances that keep us from experiencing all the many blessings God has for us here in this world I think you’d see a stampede of people heading for the same place! I don’t think that any of us would be able to get to a church altar fast enough or request nearly enough people to join us in praying for our deliverance from “whatever this thing is that’s on our back”.

That I might be enabled to be who God has purposed me to be,the joyful, healthful, bountiful, wonderful, totally fulfilled me!

2 Peter 1:3

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

The all important first step we take in truth is realizing our need for a Savior. We start by being convicted by The Holy Spirit of our sinfulness and having a sincere desire to repent and turn from our rebellion back toward God! We accept Christ’s sacrifice as being for us then we can be “born again”.   Then we can begin to grow spiritually in a new relationship “In Christ” based on His atoning blood and the grace which was shown to us that we might wear His breastplate of righteousness.

Psalm 5:12

For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.

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Ephesians 6:11-13

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

If we could see our tormentor, our oppressor, in the light of Gods glory,  for what he truly is, I think we’d all be astonished, not only that we allowed this abuse to go on for so long but that he was able to so deceive us and mankind as a whole at all.

The prophet Isaiah had this to say regarding our enemy Satan…

Isaiah 14:16

“ Those who see you will gaze at you,
And consider you, saying:

Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
Who shook kingdoms,

I once saw a Tom and Jerry cartoon where Jerry stood in front of a flashlight behind a sheet to cast an imposing shadow so that Tom would be frightened of him…It was funny!

But are we just as easily frightened by our enemy who has no real power over us other than what we give him?

His only real power is in the deceptions he’s able to convince us to believe!

I can tell you, that when the lights finally come up someday, and they will… I definitely don’t want to be found cowering in fear there in front of a mouse behind a sheet! Like I said before, I hate being the “last to know”.

I want to KNOW!  Not just to keep from looking stupid..

But so that I can GROW! in all of the ways that please my Heavenly Father…

WHO LOVES ME!

What about YOU? Would you like to start all over with a clean slate and a new life free from fear and lack and hopelessness? If you’re sick of the scare tactics and the manipulation that Satan is using against you then in the name of Jesus walk up and pull down that sheet and see for yourself what’s had you down, and sick, and depressed and anxious and then…

give him the boot!

It’s HIGH time SATAN, that you know you’re not welcome here anymore!

Jesus is the Lord over my life and I’ve been empowered by Him

to cast you out in HIS name!