Recently, I participated in one of the great rites of daddyhood, watching my daughter’s first dance recital. Totally uninhibited, she and the other “budding ballerinas” frolicked, jumped and twirled to the Little Mermaid’s “Under the Sea.” After months of rehearsal, they did what any preschooler would do — whatever they wanted. At times the choreography went right out the window as they simply played to the music.
Sure, they didn’t hit every step they were supposed to, but, of course, none of us cared. We were swept up in the joy that gushed from the stage.
They had the entire auditorium eating out of their hands and no one more so than me. When Emma came off stage, I gave her a dozen red roses and told her how beautifully she’d danced.
But imagine if my reaction had been different.
Imagine if I’d yelled at her for all of her missed dance steps, if I’d corrected every mistake and told her how disappointed I was that she hadn’t danced flawlessly. What if I’d berated her for not being as skilled as the teenage dancers who followed her act?
Of course, I wouldn’t do that. What kind of father would? And yet, isn’t that how we often think of God? A critical heavenly Father who we can never please? A taskmaster who is constantly disappointed with our every misstep? How many of us believe that God even likes us? That, in fact, He loves us and sees us with the same eyes of grace as a dad watching his preschool daughter dance?
I wonder how differently I would dance the steps of my life if I were convinced of God’s absolute goodwill toward me. I know this fact in my head, but some days it just doesn’t make it to my heart. What would change if I truly believed that my life is a performance for an audience of One, and that this one person completely adored me?
Other opinions and criticism would melt away. I would laugh freely, give generously, risk fearlessly. I would dare great acts of goodness. I wouldn’t dwell on failure. I wouldn’t obsess about the future. I would simply dance with joy.
Do you hear that? It’s applause. And it’s for you. It has nothing to do with your skill, your achievement or even your moral perfection. It’s coming from a Father who delights in you.
So, what are you waiting for? Now is your time to dance.