Tuesday, 6 December 2011

They Were Helpers, and They Danced!


I was reading a story recently about two women in their  forties (we’ll call them Raye and Lea) who were asked to be helpers at a dance class for special needs adults.  Although they felt unqualified for this job, they agreed to show up.  The class was a diverse one, ranging in disabilities from cerebral palsy (also, in a wheelchair), to autism, to Down Syndrome.  Some of the people looked a lot like Raye and Lea, and some looked very different.  Everyone started by sitting in a circle and ‘sharing’. That progressed to practicing some dance moves, then putting the moves together to do a dance.  Then everyone sat down again and they watched, and took turns performing individual versions of a dance, any kind of dance.  After an hour the class ended, and Raye and Lea went home exhausted.  Several days later Raye met the class instructor again--who explained that one of the students had come up to her after the class and exclaimed “I liked those old ladies! They were helpers, and they danced.”  Raye felt that this was a pretty profound statement, perhaps one that she would choose to have on her gravestone.  I agree.  Why?  Because I think that those two actions encapsulate what it is to be a Christian. 
1.      You are a helper.  You may not feel qualified or even particularly capable-- but you show up, and try your hardest--for other people, for God.  It could be exhausting, but it will also be inspiring.  Which leads to a feeling where…
2.       You dance.  It is difficult to do this half-heartedly (reference King David who ‘danced before the Lord’ with such abandon that he embarrassed his wife to death).  It is also almost impossible to dance if you aren’t feeling a sense of joy. And, if in fact “the joy of the Lord is your strength” then you will be able to go back to action #1.
The point is, you can’t do one without the other.  If you serve (or help) God, and others, only out of a sense of duty or obligation, you are going to be a very dreary Christian. You’ll give up trying to be a helper because it just is too hard to sustain.  If you only want the joy and dancing part—it is going to be all about you--and won’t be sustainable either.  But if you do the two things together, they will function like cogs that keep turning each other like wheels.  One drives the other.

If Christians were characterized as “they were helpers, and they danced” (with joy!) wouldn’t it be an amazing legacy for us to leave behind ?

                 “They were helpers, and they danced”!

(Thanks to Kathy Donald, for submitting this story.)

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