I homeschool my oldest child, an endeavor that brings measures of joy and frustration, but always keeps me busy. We have school 4 days each week from early morning to mid-afternoon. Between teaching my 6-year-old and caring for my 3-year-old, those days are jam packed. As in, I get up early, savor a smidgen of pre-kid atmosphere, wake my 6-year-old, and I’m off–going 90 miles an hour until 2:30 when the little one takes a nap and the big one is done with school. I sit at the dining room table, take a deep breath, and recover.
Today, I had finished teaching a math lesson to my oldest and put her to work on some practice problems. I zipped off to the computer to take care of a task on my “to do” list in the brief break I would get before having to start her spelling lesson. This is how I get things done on school days…5 minutes here, 2 minutes there. Eventually, all the little minutes add up to a whole–a message returned, an order placed, a card written, an appointment made, a meal cooked.
My 3-year-old was contentedly playing just outside the room in which I was working. She was in the middle of her usual creation–a spattering of safari animals, dolls, doctor kits, and play food in a lovely state of chaos. Her presence in the next room barely registered, except for the quiet relief that she was occupied. Sometimes, her neediest moments and my breaks collide in a way that makes me inwardly cringe.
Eyes locked on the computer screen, I was scanning deals for an upcoming ski trip when I faintly realized she was singing. I still might not have looked up, but for the words she was singing. “Come dance with me, come dance with me.” Syrupy emotion slid over me as I watched her move in a slow circle, her back to me, her arms outstretched, “Come dance with me, come dance with me.” I gazed at my sweet siren, the lilting melody of her quiet voice calling to me. She wasn’t even looking at me, had no idea I was listening to her, and yet somewhere in the words was a gentle invitation. I accepted.
A smile broke her lovely little face into sweet lines of pleasure as I stepped into her dance.Her eyes flashed delight as I stretched out my hands. She wrapped her little fingers around mine and continued spinning around me in a slow circle, “Come dance with me, come dance with me.” We danced until we collapsed in a dizzy ball of giggles, and I heard her say, “Mama, that was so fun.” I looked into her precious face, and I thought, I almost missed this moment.
In that hush of wonder, His Spirit breathed Yes, whisper soft and yet keenly intense in that way He has of snatching my attention in the unexpected. And I knew He was showing me a bigger truth in this moment with my little one. He was gently chiding me for the many times I’ve missed the chance to dance with Him. How often have I been too busy or too distracted to hear my Jesus softly calling, “Come dance with Me, come dance with Me”? How many times has He stretched out His hands, offering me the delight of His company, as I passed by on my way to someone or something else? What moments in His Presence have I missed because I simply didn’t slow down enough to hear His invitation?
We say we want to know God more. We say we want to see more of His power at work in our lives. We say we want to discern His will and follow it. But over and over, we don’t do the one thing that must happen if any of this is to be realized in our relationship with God–come away and just be in His Presence. We are most effective as Christ-followers when we understand that time spent with God is of greater value to the Kingdom than time spent doing things for God. Transformation happens in His Presence, not in our doing.
In the last few weeks, I’ve tried to replicate that moment with my daughter again. I’ve sung her little tune, held out my hands as I cajoled her with a grin, all to no avail. She’s not having any of it. She just giggles and tells me, “No, mama.” Thank goodness, God’s desire to dance with me is not that fickle. He’s the Partner who’s always on His toes, the music playing, His arms stretched out, His voice beckoning with tender persistence. And somewhere in the sound, Eden echoes, Eternity whispers, I take His Hand, and we dance.
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”
— Psalm 139:7