Because we don’t have a regular couch in our Michigan cottage, Jack has chosen the next best thing as his favorite place to get comfy, an old wing chair. Although I won’t let him climb on the beds (and used mouse traps to convince him), I do let him snuggle in the well-worn easy chair.
Despite loving a soft place to rest, however, Jack’s absolute favorite place to be is outdoors, and his most loved outdoor spot is the beach.
Whenever we arrive there, whether it’s 90 degrees or ten below zero, he initiates his visit with what we call his “happy dance.” He throws himself down on his back with vigor and rolls from side to side, all four legs punching the air. It’s an upside-down hula as he wiggles his hips from side to side like he’s hearing music the rest of us can’t.
He’s taught his cousin-dog Sydney to do the happy dance, and together they thrash around on their backs like a couple of canines-possessed. Mary and I laugh at their abandon, wondering what on earth could possibly be appealing about getting sand and snow up your nose and in your eyes.
But that’s dogs for you. When Jack is doing his happy dance and I’m thinking he looks like an idiot, that doesn’t stop him, nor does he mind my having that opinion. He’s so pleased to be at the beach that his glee just bursts out of him in that way. I wish I could let joy burst out of me like that, not necessarily by rolling around on my back but maybe by singing loudly or twirling in a clumsy dance… even in front of others.
Five of our seven kids have spent time in Youth With A Mission, and each has described the unique worship services they’ve been a part of, all far different than their conservative church background. Part of the lively nature of YWAM worship is due to the happy conglomeration of students from a variety of countries and cultures. But most of it is just a wholehearted response to a deep love of God that bursts out in animated joy.
There’s dancing in the aisles, clapping, tears, waving of arms and hands, running around, spontaneous praying and more. If I was there, my most enthusiastic participation might be a turning up of palms, but that would only happen after I stopped staring at everyone else doing what I wished I could.
I can’t help it if I’m a conservative Swede with a straight-laced upbringing. But my heart for the Lord makes me eager for heaven where I have a hunch inhibitions will fall away and we’ll all be able to happy-dance with abandon, just like the YWAMers…
…and just like Jack.
“Young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” (Jeremiah 31:13)