It’s the early seventies. I’m 20 years old. In simple math, a long time ago. I’m invited to a dance, a first date. For the occasion, I buy a tangerine silk wrap dress along with a pair of strappy heels. The ones that look amazing while squeezing your toes in a vise-like manner. Worship Praise Dance for the Lord
My date arrives in a 1971 Volkswagen bus, dressed in Levis, a Led Zeppelin T-shirt; the iconic image completed with messy hair and mutton chop sideburns. We converse in “first-date-ESE,” each asking the other prepared clever questions. You know, like, “What’s your sign?” Or “What band do you groove on?” Worship Praise Dance for the Lord
When we arrive at the Broadway Grange Hall, he excuses himself, points to the punch bowl, joins his buddies across the room. It’s one of those moments when mundane tasks feel awkward, like standing, selecting a facial expression, breathing in and out. Looking around the room, I notice the crowd is… different. Then I remember my date works at Yakima Specialties, with disabled adults. He failed to mention this is a dance for his clients. Worship Praise Dance for the Lord
Just then, a young man in plaid bell bottom pants and platform shoes taps my shoulder asking, if I’d like to dance. The dance floor is empty. The song is Jim Croce’s, Bad, Bad, LeRoy Brown. I want to say no thank you, but instead say,
“Sure.” Worship Praise Dance for the Lord
As I perform the lackadaisical dance of inconspicuousness, my partner turbo-jives, using arms, legs, feet, hands, head, and every inch of the 20 by 40-foot dance floor. Looking back, I now see, his dance was brilliant, ahead of its time and exactly what people strive for today. But, being the age of “everyone is looking at me,” I pray for a fairy godmother to “poof” me away. Contrary to the insistence of my inner narcissist, no one is looking at me. My date is engrossed with his buds, talking shop, or sports, or who cares what.
The song ends but before I slip away, the next begins, enticing a fellow in a ruffled tuxedo shirt, to join us on the floor. Moments later, a girl in a rhinestone tiara, pushing a walker, and a few others boogied onto the scene. By the fifth number of the night, Elton John’s, Crocodile Rock, the dance floor is packed with non-couples, dancing free style, not only to the beat played by the band, but many others, as well. Worship Praise Dance for the Lord
It took longer than it should, but I came around. Who could resist? They were free, real, alive. They trusted the music, the moment, the calling. They exchanged uptight for “out of sight.” That night, they set me free as well. My self-absorbed fears melted away, leaving me worthy of my partners. We tapped, river danced, dosey-dohed. I even taught them how to do the alligator; a dance performed with tummies on the floor. I witnessed a pirouette, and an impressive leap across the floor. It was exhilarating.
Fast forward, 30 years and much life, good, bad, and ugly, to the year 2001. I walk through the doors of the Vineyard Christian Church, the same as I attend today. I’m late, uncertain I want to be there. The service has begun. I choose a balcony seat, in the corner by an exit, where I can keep watch over the entire church.
The music is unlike any I’ve heard before. I’m fascinated with the interaction between it and the people in the pews. Many are standing, hands raised, swaying, eyes closed. Others remain seated, eyes open, one or both hands outstretched. Some weep. All, appear at ease, or at least content. Mid-investigation, to my surprise, I feel tears streaming down my cheeks. Good tears, comforting, like warm water when you’re chilled. The kind that shows up at reunions, weddings, and births.
I didn’t know what to think.
Back then, I thought people sang in church for the same reason they joined a Barbershop Quartet or rang doorbells with Christmas carols. I must have heard it referred to as worship, but did not make the connection. After witnessing worship, and having been introduced to the Holy Spirit, I hung around. Like a starving cat given a bowl of milk, I wanted more.
The mysterious tears continued to show up in the balcony, dripping down my face. Eventually my fascination with the worshiping lessened, and my own desire to praise grew. My familiar enemy, I call, oppression, kept my arms dangling awkwardly at my side. One day, I ignored the nagging oppressor, shooting my arms straight up. I laughed out loud, because for a moment, I thought I might fly up through the air with my limbs. Such bliss, beatitude, joy!
Freedom to praise, love, honor, adore, worship my Lord, in MY way. I’m not saying, animated worship is for everyone. For some, sitting still, basking in His presence is THEIR worship mode. I practice this style as well. But, one of God’s coolest traits is knowing each of our hearts, style, idiosyncrasies… our nature. I was trapped in a safe mode of worship, by fear, not choice. It suits me, to raise my arms, sway and sometimes dance. It’s fair to say I’m a David, when it comes to worship.
“And David danced before the LORD with all his might.”
When worship sunk in as a verb, I was set free to show my heart to the Lord. I pray all will find the place of worship that unlocks the boundless praise, longing to escape.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
Check out our book in progress. LOVE AND AN INTERVENTION: A Dual Memoir about Second Chances. Read a sample chapter here. Sneak Peek Chapter 14