I always liked to dance. I remember how, as a boy, I used to go down into our basement when no one else was around and dance. I would put on my favorite records and twist and turn and strut and slide, mimicking my favorite rock stars. In my little fantasy world I imagined that I was performing before a huge audience who loved my every move. They would clap and cheer wildly as I leaped and twirled in perfect time to the music. And then... oh, no! Somebody was coming down the basement stairs! REALITY! I would quickly sit down and act like I was just sitting there all along, listening to records. I would have been so embarrassed if anybody would have actually caught me jumping around like a fool.
As I grew older I overcame my inhibitions about dancing in front of other people. As a young man I used to go to clubs where the main activity was happening on the dance floor. Everything was designed to help you get over your fears about expressing yourself in such a profound way in public. The lights were low except for the spinning colored lights and the strobes. The music was loud with a driving backbeat that almost made you feel like you were dancing even when you were sitting down. And, of course, there was plenty of alcohol to help you get over the last of your fears.
But, somehow, dancing in the clubs wasn’t the same as when I did it as a boy. I was still terribly self-conscious. Only now I wasn’t basking in the glow of adoring fans. Rather, I felt like a bug under a microscope. I sensed the critical eyes of the other dancers and the people sitting around the dance floor. They pretended not to notice, but I knew they were watching and comparing because that’s how I was.
We are so fragile in our self worth. We want so much to be accepted and even praised so we can feel good about ourselves. But in society today the things that are considered to show a person’s worth are only skin deep — fame, fortune, talent, good looks, etc. But who considers the hidden person of the heart? Indeed, who can even know his own heart when he’s been trained to seek the worthless things of the world.
I used to like dancing at the Grateful Dead shows. The style of dance that people did was very basic so anybody could do it without standing out very much. Also, whether you were in a drum circle or in the show, once the music started, you were gone. It’s like something comes over you and you surrender yourself body, soul, and spirit to become one with it. The music courses through your veins and into every cell in your body. The driving jungle beat urges you on and on, higher and higher. You hardly notice the sweat pouring out of you as your mind and emotions grope for deep fellowship with this powerful spirit that has captivated you. Is it the power of the music? The band? Or is it something more?
At some point I heard of a club in my home town that was hiring people to dance in cages suspended over the dance floor. The “go-go” dancers, as they were called, would wear outrageous costumes and dance in the cages as part of the atmosphere of the club. I think in my subconscious I saw it as a fulfillment of my childhood fantasies — praise and recognition. On the surface I saw it as an opportunity to make money doing what I liked to do.
I saw many things about life in the world and about my true condition during my time as a go-go dancer. It was very much like I imagined things when I was a boy. It was obvious that people were watching as they acknowledged the movements of my body with shouts of approval. I took note of the moves people responded to and styled my dancing according to what they liked.
At some point it occurred to me that my dancing had become very sexual in nature. This wasn’t at all what I had in mind when I took the job. I just wanted to freely express myself and have fun. But, obviously, what I wanted more than that was the approval of men — even at the expense of my own dignity. I saw how that was a picture of my life. My energy and thoughts were devoted to things of this world that people do to try to find worth. But no matter what I did, I never quite felt like I measured up. My cool, self-conscious dancing was the epitome of my life.
Then I met my wonderful family! I was wandering through a parking lot at a Grateful Dead show and came upon this group of very peculiar people. They were dancing! But it wasn’t the kind of dancing that I was used to. They were holding hands and dancing in a circle. They were moving together in unity like one big living body. The whole spirit of their music and dancing was different than anything I had ever known. It was clean and fresh and joyful. The people who were dancing seemed happy and serene and very connected to each other. There was a wonderful brightness in their eyes. I was overwhelmed by what I saw. It was like I had discovered a treasure. I began to cry, though I wasn’t sure why.
I spend the next three hours getting to know these people. They told me of their common life together. Like bees in a hive, they all lived and worked together. Each one did his part to meet the needs of the others. They shared everything they had with glad hearts because they loved one another. Their greatest desire was to be pleasing to the One who created everything good.
I could hardly believe what I was hearing! It sounded too good to be true, yet I couldn’t deny the love that I saw in their midst. They told me how they found the way out of human misery. They were being set free to love from a pure heart. They told me of the One who had released them from the chains of guilt and loneliness. Because of what He did, people don’t have to die anymore. They said His name is Yahshua.
I came to understand that Yahshua was the Hebrew name of the one called Jesus in the Bible. This made me so happy! I had never met people like these who were so real and natural and loved God. I loved God, too! I wanted so much to know Him and to be close to Him. I had tried being a Christian but somehow I never could believe that I was really forgiven for my sins, especially because I couldn’t seem to stop doing things that troubled my conscience. But these people had something that I needed. Meeting them changed my life forever.
That night I went on my way, promising to keep in touch. I returned to my little place in the world that I had carved out. By most people’s standards I was pretty well set. But things looked very different after my encounter with Yahshua’s people. Suddenly my little house seemed so empty. My job seemed so pointless. I realized that even my closest friends didn’t know what was deep in my heart. Our conversations were so shallow and meaningless.
My eyes began to open with greater clarity to the self-centered ways in me that hurt others. I had done things in my life that I could never tell anyone about. But I believed that there was going to be justice for all men. Somehow I knew that I was going to have to stand before God and answer for how I lived the life He gave me. I knew what my sins deserved and it wasn’t an eternity of peace in His loving arms.
I wanted to change! I hated who I had become. I saw how I was the product of a desperately sick society that had trained me to seek comfort and pleasure at any cost. It was all a great deception! I thought I was getting what I wanted, never realizing that it was costing me all that I had — my very soul.
What could I do about the sad reality of my life? What I had always done. Turn up the music! I continued to find opportunities to fill my head with mind-altering chemicals and lose myself in the dance. But the more I tried to escape, the clearer I saw the evil that worked in my heart. I remember nights when I came home and sat on the edge of my bed and wept over my condition. I begged God to help me, to somehow lead me out of the deep pit that I had gotten myself into. I promised Him that if He would show me what He wanted me to do, I would do it with all my heart.
It was at one of these times of desperately seeking Him that I suddenly knew what I had to do. It was the most radical thing that ever entered my heart. I wept for joy over the peace that I felt and the freedom that I knew was before me. But the moment was bittersweet, for I knew that everyone that I loved would think that I had completely lost my mind.
I remembered the words of Yahshua that I read in the Bible. He sad, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” He said, “Whoever does not give up all his own possessions is not worthy to be my disciple.” I understood that my only hope to find Him was in obeying what He said. I knew it would cost me all that I had — my house, my car, my career, my music. I had to be free of everything I took identity in or got my security from besides Him.
Since I had met Yahshua’s people these things had lost their lustré. Everything else paled in comparison to the hope of being close to God. I was going on a journey to find Him. My first stop would be to visit my friends who danced in a circle. I didn’t know where I would go after that. But I knew I could never turn back.
The life I found in the Community was far beyond anything I could have imagined. It was everything they told me and so much more. After a short time I fell in love with these people and the wonderful spirit that bound them together as a family. I soon realized that my journey was over, for I had found the treasure I sought. There in their midst, filling their hearts, shining forth through their eyes was Yahshua. Here was the true Son of God who died for the sins of the whole world, now risen and filling His precious ones with eternal life.
He gave me faith to believe in Him. His love expressed in His people won my heart. I surrendered myself to Him and He washed me of the life I hated. He could forgive me because He already paid the debt I could never pay. After He made me clean, He put His Spirit in me and began the work of restoring me to who He created me to be.
It’s been almost seven years since He brought me into His family. I’m so thankful for His faithfulness. He is healing me from the deep scars that were left by my time in the world. I love Him so much. It’s so wonderful to be in the circle, hand in hand with my brothers and sisters. We look each other in the eye and smile because we know who is in the center — His name is Yahshua. We love to dance for Him. Nothing compares to the joy of knowing that you are pleasing to your Creator.
The circle is growing and there’s always room for more. Do you like to dance? Take my hand. I’ll show you the way — to Him.