The stage was bare.
Some lights were lit.
The audience present were few in numbers and most were getting up to leave.
It was over.
The show was done and the place would soon be closed up until tomorrow evening's performance.
But, she sat there caressing her painful feet, looking for a moment to wrap her swollen toes and bandage the sores and aching callouses all over her feet. No one sees her on the corner of the stage, slowly packing her bags for the night and waiting for the painkillers to begin to take effect so that she can get up and begin her ascent, up the aisle and out the door, back to the city that never sleeps.
"I gave it my all tonight." She says within herself. "No one saw it but I gave my all tonight." Aching feet are proof she didn't hold herself back at any moment. She moved, she leaped, she held each position when she needed to and kept each expression perfect during each changing scene. Her dance was her all and she walked away, unnoticed, with no one saying, "She was one of the performers." and with an emptiness inside of her heart.
She was wounded.
Life had not been kind.
She blamed tonight but tonight had nothing to do with the wounds, the scars and the hurts that were buried deep inside of her. What she was feeling tonight was not the effect of years of being ignored, mistreated and emotionally sabotaged from childhood. There were tears that could no longer be cried and there was anger that only came through when the music soared and was loud enough to call her to move with each sound.
"Oh, if it wasn't for the music that called her to get away from it all, it just for a moment...."
The wounded dancer walked out into the city and carefully placed each foot, remembering the bandages and the wraps that would help her get home tonight. She stopped at a coffee shop for some midnight caffeine and allowed her thoughts to wander away from the coffee mug and into a dark closet where she saw her young self. Scared. Dark. Locked away and kept there even after so many screams and banging on the door. Left to sleep there. Cold. On a wet floor because the bathroom had not been allowed. The dancer smiled. "But you are free now little one. Are you not?"
Placing two dollars on the counter, she rose and walked out.
"Are you truly free?" A voice in the wind, close to heart, whispered deep into her soul.
Her feet carried her towards her neighborhood and the sound of a man's voice, speaking loudly caught her attention. "Who would be speaking so loudly at this past midnight hour? Yes, the city was alive with lights, tourists and busy bodies, but who would even care to be speaking out at this hour?"
She walked towards the voice and once more heard him say, "There is freedom for the wounded heart. There is freedom for your broken heart. If your feet are hurting because you cannot find the road to freedom on your own, God cries out to you tonight and invites you to find the road where you will find freedom to dance in His presence like never before. He invites you to dance and bask in his love. He calls you out and invites you to bring him your pain, your past with all it's hardships. God loves you so much. You don't have to drag your feet and keep dancing to the music of your pain. Heaven has begun a new sound, just for you. Will you hear the melody of heaven's sound, inviting you to come near, lay down your burden, open your heart to God's love and dance anew, the dance of being free and knowing His love."
She was definitely tired of the way life had turned out but here was this guy reminding her of the words she'd grown up hearing in Sunday school. Did God really care? Did he really love her? She continued to listen to this preacher man, who didn't look like a preacher at all, but he inspired her to dare and open her heart to discover the love of the Lord, beckoning to her to let him heal her hurts and make all things new.
"So," the preacher said as he looked at her.
"Are you talking to me? Because I don't even know you." the dancer answered.
"Yes. I have two questions for you." he responded.
"Look, I really have to get home...." she started to give some excuses but he smiled and said, "Humor me."
"Okay." the dancer said. "Two questions."
"One (1)" he began, "Do you want to keep walking away from God's love when you know in your heart He is inviting you tonight to dare and believe that He loves you no matter what you think. He loves you even though you think you're unworthy of such love. He loves you even when you think you are hopeless and no one cares. Will you at least try and open up your heart to say yes to his love? The Savior of this world would have died even if it would be for just one person alone, YOU. You mean everything to the Lord. What do you say? Tired of the broken road and ready for a new direction for your heart?"
"I don't know....What's the second thing you have to get off your chest?"
She looked at him, somewhat resistant and afraid. He smiled. He bent down and placed his hands into some huge luggage around his feet. His lifted up and had in his hands an old violin. He smiled again and nodded to her.
"Number two (2) is simple. Listen to the music of his heart inviting you to dance into His presence, into His love. He turns your mourning into dancing. He rejoices and sings over you tonight as you open your heart and allow the healer of your heart to restore every broken area of your life."
The preacher began to play, at first like a beginner would strum the violin, but then as if heaven had come down to accompany him, his heart and soul took over the instrument and a powerful anointing from the Lord of glory poured out like rain upon him. And, as he played, the wounded dancer allowed the music and the love pouring out through each sound to wrap itself around her til she found herself dancing, twirling and moving around on the busy city street.
As she moved to the violin's story, tears poured out and she allowed God's love to enter into the hurting corners of her heart. She cried out a prayer to her Heavenly Father. She raised her hands and asked Him to come and have his way in her life just as she had done once as a child. She lowered her hands and fell on her knees, surrendering and giving her life to the One who had once been her friend. She began to see memories of moments sitting next to her grandmother in church and listening to the songs and the words that said, "No matter where you go, I will always love you. I will never stop loving you."
The preacher, the violinist, placed the violin away and off of his chin and shoulder. He placed the instrument back into the old luggage. The wounded dancer stopped and looked at him. Her dance had attracted a crowd but this time she didn't care to impress anyone but the God who had invited her to dance into her healing.
She was not the wounded dancer any longer. The Lord of the dance had restored her and given her a new reason to twirl, move, leap and go from side to side when the music came to life inside of her.
"So," the preacher said, "What will you say to his invitation? Was your dance just another word for "YES"?"
Smiling, the wounded, no, the joyful dancer responded, "No other way to accept."
Although the violin was stowed away and the preacher had began to pack and ready to go home, the healed dancer still heard a song as if raining from the heavenlies. Her heart was light, the hurts were gone, and she was full of hope. Her feet seemed to no longer ache and she now only had images of new dances in her mind that would her share with others what God, the God of new beginnings, wants to do in the lives of all his creation.
She danced away until she came upon her building and as she got ready to open the door to go inside, she looked up to heaven. She bowed as if ending a recital. Unseen angels rejoiced and applauded. The skies were filled with celebration as one more had opened her heart to God's plan for her life. Joy! Unspeakable joy was hers even in the midst of her past and her pain. God has truly begun a new and great work in her life tonight and she could only look forward to what would come next.
I am that wounded dancer.
No. I have never danced professionally, but a huge part of my life as a child and in my teens was given to finding my escape and my joy in dance. My energy and my hours were invested in trying to be the best because I wanted to dance professionally and I wanted to be recognized so that I would make it into the dance industry I loved so much. Many doors opened at one point in my life and I believe the prayers my mom sent to heaven had a lot to do with how those doors also closed suddenly, thus leading me to a Mighty Heavenly Father who would one day give me a new reason and purpose to move through dance.
I was that wounded dancer because my life was filled with sadness, no desire to live many times, and there was little joy in who I was. It was only through music that I felt some happiness or ability to show that I could be good at something.
It was on a rainy night, on the streets, that I opened my heart to God's invitation and allowed him to enter my wounded heart and my burdened mind. When I got to where the preacher was, the preaching had finished and all I got to listen to was the call to give God a chance, to give him my heart and he would do a new thing in my life. It rained that night as I went forward. There were many on the streets and I was all the way at the back. My brother was there with me. We moved forward together. Our personal dance into the family and presence of the Lord.
For the first time ever, I allowed myself to cry and not be afraid of who saw me. I felt as if the rain pouring down was removing the anger, the hate, the sadness and all the feelings of unworthiness. I was that wounded dancer and I know that even if you have never danced before, you are being invited to hear heaven's orchestra playing a redemption song for you tonight. God has great plans for your life. Yes, you may be hurting, but joy, great joy comes in the morning!!
I remember my first steps as a Christian, I was angry that I would never dance again. I cried out to God to take dance away because I began to dream and see myself dancing but filled with faith. I cannot tell you the people that told me I was not right with God because I shared those dreams. I was one of those first people many years ago that endured the ridicule, the confrontations of church leaders and ministries that said it was wrong to dance for the Lord. So, please, if you have the opportunity to dance as part of a ministry, don't take it for granted. So many of us paid a huge price to open the doors for so many that not just do it as a show and entertainment. Dance for God, not for people, not for show, just you and the Lord. And, dance to minister to lives. God will guide you and show you what to do if you listen to the music he places in your heart.
I pray, that you will listen to the song of heaven and open your heart, dance into God's presence and allow the healing to begin.
God loves you, dear friend, and he has a new dance waiting for you, if you just believe.