Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thankful to the Bone

It was a first for me.  A lady broke out in dancing during a worship service.  It was January, 1986, and was in Jamaica on a mission trip.  I was sitting in the church worshiping with the people waiting for my time to get up and preach.  And suddenly, during the singing, a lady got up and started dancing.  Having been either a Presbyterian or a Baptist for my then 29 years of life, I can honestly say no one ever got up to dance during worship—not even once.  Well, I do remember a kid getting up and wiggling around during the song service in a Baptist church one time, but he wasn’t dancing; he had to go to the bathroom.  Nope, never seen dancing before in worship.

But this Jamaican lady cut loose.  It wasn’t really a frenetic jig, and she never jumped a pew.  It was more of a rhythmic movement, up and down the center aisle of the little church, twirling and swaying and raising her hands to God in praise and thanksgiving.  It almost had a ballet feel to it.  And there was nothing forced about it either.  You could tell it came from someplace deep inside her heart. “So what’s with the dance?” I whispered to the Jamaican pastor who was hosting us.  He kind of shrugged his shoulders, as if her dance was the most normal thing in the world, and said, “She just does it when she’s thankful.”

“Hmmm,” I thought to myself.  “That’s no skin-deep thanksgiving.  She must be thankful to the bone.”  And I couldn’t help but think of another thanksgiving dance I’d read about in the Bible—the day David brought the Ark of the Covenant home to Jerusalem.  The King practically danced out of his clothes.  Fred Astaire and Michael Jackson had nothing on him.

When David's wife told him how his spastic little dance embarrassed her to no end, David said, "Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this.  I wasn't dancing for you anyway.  I was dancing for the Lord."  And David was so thankful to God that he treated everyone to a picnic so they could join the celebration too.  Like the Jamaican woman, David's thanksgiving was no skin-deep thanksgiving.  It was heart deep.  He was thankful to the bone.

Think through your blessings this Thanksgiving, and give thanks to God from the depths rather than from the surface.  Sing!  Shout!  Even do a little jig if you feel like it.  And could I encourage you not to worry about how crazy you look or how foolish you sound as you express your thanksgiving to God?  Some of the people who know you well may think you've lost your mind.  But God who knows you best and loves you most will be grinning from ear to ear.  He always does when we're thankful to the bone.

Happy Thanksgiving!