One of the most awkward seasons of my adolescent life was when my mom signed me up for something called cotillion. I think I was in the 7th grade, but I can’t really remember — I may have blocked it out.

Cotillion is a kind of dance ball where you learn traditional dances like the foxtrot, cha-cha, and waltz. There are weeks of practice before showing up for this big event.

Let me pause here to say that I don’t really dance. I wish I was a better dancer. For some people, dancing comes naturally, but I am not one of those people.

With cotillion, the awkward part came not in learning the dances, but in showing up for the event and having to fill out a dance card. The dance card determined whom I would dance with for each successive song. There were 10 spots on my dance card that had to be filled. I went from person to person to have them write their name on my card, while I would write my name in the same spot on their card.

I will never forget the feeling of having eight people on my dance card but not being able to close the deal on the last two. I asked so many people if they wanted to dance, but they said, “No,” or “I’m full.” The response “let me get back to you” was the hardest one to hear. That meant, “I want to see if someone better comes along before saying yes.”

I finally got ten people to agree to dance with me, but the process was grueling for a self-conscious, clumsy kid.

All of us want to be picked. All of us want to feel seen. From the most gangly to the most gorgeous, we all want to be chosen.

Jesus’ Dance Card

I wonder if I would have been chosen among the first twelve disciples. To even suggest that sounds arrogant.

But then I think, why not? Would Jesus have seen something in me that showed I could be trusted to receive His teaching, follow His training, and then trek out in His name to do what He did?

The first twelve who followed him for several years eventually were sent out to preach the kingdom, heal the sick, and cast out demons. It’s easy to forget that they once were just ordinary, common people. They said dumb things. They got things wrong. They were awkward and sometimes struggled to get along.

Why were they chosen? They weren’t the smartest. They weren’t the most educated. They weren’t the most experienced or the most religious.

I believe that Jesus chose them because they were teachable. They were willing to listen to Him and learn His moves. I also believe Jesus chose them because they were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. They turned their backs on their homes, their professions, their lifestyle, and their own will for their lives. The fishermen walked away from their father and from their nets; Matthew walked away from the tax collector’s booth. They gave everything.

The greatest reward they received was simply being near to Jesus for three years. He invited them to be the first to experience the life of being constantly connected to a loving Heavenly Father and to taste what it was to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

C. S. Lewis, “In Christianity God is not a static thing . . . but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.” The three persons —Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — are in a dynamic relationship with one another of pure love and joy. There’s no awkwardness. There’s no wondering which one matters more.

Theologian Cornelius Plantinga develops this idea further, saying: “The persons within God exalt each other, commune with each other, and defer to one another…In constant movement of overture and acceptance, each person envelops and encircles the others.”

What’s more amazing is that Jesus tells his disciples they have been chosen to take part in this endless dance. He said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23, NIV).

You, too, have been chosen. You’ve been called by name. There’s a place for you on Jesus’ dance card. God wants to do more than just show you a few steps, however. God wants to live through you and give you the assurance of peace as a beloved child of God.

He’s Wild About You

There’s no question about God’s love for you. “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him” (Psalm 103:11, NIV).

The author Brennan Manning was a brilliant writer and speaker. He often led simple retreats. He would speak, and then asked people to go off by themselves and journal about what we were experiencing with God. Then they would come back and share with the group.

On one summer retreat in Iowa City, a nun named Christine was one of the participants. When it was time for her to share in her group what she’d experienced, she said, “I got nothing. I’m not hearing anything. I’m not feeling anything. I must be doing something wrong.”

Manning assured her, “No, no, it’s ok, it’s just different for you, it’ll come.” They went through the whole weekend. Each time when it was her turn to share, she’d say, “I got nothing.”

On the last day, Manning spoke and then everybody went off to journal. But this time, Christine got something.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” she later shared. “It was like a dream. I was asking God to show me and help me understand what I’m missing; and suddenly it was like I was transported into this huge dance hall. It was like a ballroom, and everybody was dressed very elegantly. All around me, everyone was dancing, beautiful dances, perfectly, nobody missing a single step.”

Christine continued, “I went over and stood against the wall. I stood there through a couple of songs all by myself. Then this gentleman came up to me. I don’t know if he’d been there all along, but he had on this striking black tux with a red flower. He came up to me, extended his hand and said, ‘Can we dance?’”

“I told him, ‘I’m not very good,’” the woman related. “But the man said, ‘It’s ok. I’ll lead the way.’”

The woman then described what the dance was like. “He took me by the hand out on the dance floor and we began to dance. And I’ve never danced like that. We spun. We dipped. It was amazing. As we danced, everyone else stopped dancing and just formed a big circle around us. When the song ended, everyone applauded just for us. And the man looked at me and said, ‘Thank you for having this dance with me.’”

“As he looked into my eyes, I knew it was Jesus,” Christine said. Jesus said again, “Thank you for this dance.” Then added, ‘Let me tell you one more thing.’”

He whispered in her ear, “Christine, I’m wild about you.”

Christine concluded, “I know it sounds odd, but it’s true. He said, ‘I’m wild about you.’ I know I will never be the same again.”

For the Lost, Lonely, and Left Out

I actually sat down to write something totally different today (and certainly not this long). But I felt compelled to write these words. Maybe there is someone who needs to hear this today.

God loves you. God won’t leave you. If you’re feeling a bit lost or lonely or left out on the dance floor of life, just remember: God loves you with a perfect love. He’s wild about you. He’s with you. He’s for you. He knows how you feel. He wants you to hold on to Him and let Him direct your steps.

I love you as well! May we love one another as we join in the dance together.

Have a great week —

Pastor Brent McDougal