The special moment that a large group of parents had been waiting for, had finally arrived. All those early Saturday mornings of trundling their kids off to dance classes were now going to be justified, as the performance of the year was about to begin. Their wonderful dance instructor Helen, who ran The Pennine Academy of Dance had patiently taught ballet, street dance, acro and tap and children of all ages enjoyed each lesson, loving her dearly.
A bunch of pre-school children stood nervously back-stage, eagerly anticipating their cue to step forward through the curtain and into the limelight where hundreds of excited parents were sat waiting quietly, with cameras poised in their hands. With each strand of hair beautifully braided and each tiny waist supporting a floaty satin skirt, it looked like the audience were going to be entertained by nimble fairies. Helen, who had trained at the Royal Academy of Dance, smiled proudly when it was their turn to enter the stage and reveal all the hard work they had put in over the last few months.
Every child was holding a baton with a pom-pom attached at the end – not the fluffy woollen type, but the glitzy tinsel type that cheerleaders use.
The music began and off they went, dancing merrily like the graceful ballerinas that they were.
And then it happened and our hearts sank – the hearts of the parents watching, the hearts of the helpers backstage and the rapidly beating heart of one little girl. She dropped her baton.
As the music continued playing, for those watching, it was as if the volume had been turned down to a whisper.
But for this infant, it must have seemed deafening, as her brain tried to decipher what to do next. She did what most children would do. She did what many adults do when tragedy strikes: She stood in the middle of the stage, head down, staring at the pom-pom that had landed by her toes.
It lay limp on the floor, although on many occasions it had dazzled beautifully in her hands during numerous rehearsals.
Two small feet stood rooted to the spot, while others rose into the air landing in a hop. Two arms that wanted to fly upwards in a gallant wave, flopped redundantly as the arms of other infants flew high, sending shiny strips of tinsel towards the spotlights above. Two eyes glistened with moisture as tears were fought back – embarrassment, fear and confusion all mixed into one as it now seemed too late to catch up with the rest.
She remained motionless as the music played and excited children danced around her.
A moment before, she had been happy to be part of a show that demonstrated her dance skills and at the tender age of four, she had been doing remarkably well to the remember all the moves.
With her chin now resting on her chest, the end of the second baton made its way into her mouth as she chewed on it nervously.
Having been given strict instructions not to pick up her baton if it falls, the cute little girl stood anxiously observing all the others on stage, who in her peripheral vision, were now holding tightly onto their own batons so as not to incur the same fate.
We all know how immobilizing it is when something we were grasping onto is no longer there. It matters little whether it was us who dropped it, or if it was cruelly snatched from our hands – whichever way, it often leaves us too shocked to function.
- One day we are holding onto our health, the next we are told we have a terminal illness.
- We are planning great retirement holidays with our spouse, then they announce they have found somebody else.
- We talk proudly at how well our child is doing at school just at the moment their friend’s car is crashing into a wall with them in the passenger seat.
- Or we make a dreadful mistake and are too full of shame to go back home or to walk back into church.
Yes, some of us dropped our batons years ago and we are still staring down at them while others dance around us.
When the performance finished, the audience clapped vigorously and the youngster may have assumed this was not for her.
Yet if she had asked anyone in the room, they would have told her that she deserved their cheers as much as the ones who completed the sequence and indeed she was included in their ovation.
God does the same.
He is cheering you on and applauding you for every little effort you make. It doesn’t matter that others are sprinting past you while you are barely crawling.
He is proud of your attempts to move in the right direction no matter how small. He sees the work you put in behind the scenes, so when life knocks your baton from your hand, he already knows about your endeavours – that your trouble is just one of those unfortunate things. But even when it’s the result of your foolishness or sin, he is still eager to help you back into ‘the dance’.
Although the young child was doing as she was told – not to pick up her baton if it drops, she didn’t understand she was to continue dancing. In the same way, God wants to help us carry on despite the fact that:
The abuser may never apologise.
The business may never survive.
The distant parent may never embrace.
There’s no money left in the bank.
The wayward spouse may never return.
The medication may never work.
Our reputation is in ruins.
The dream may never be fulfilled.
Our kids have all gone astray.
The lost family may never be found.
The bullies may never show remorse.
The deceased will never breathe again.
Your Heavenly Father has never taken his eyes off you. You may feel like you’re going nowhere…
…but he is right here waiting to strengthen you each step of the way and show you what you can do when you allow him to direct your steps.
It is hard to keep up with the pace of everyone else and not everyone can…
…but that’s okay.
He is waiting to jump up onto your stage, pick up your baton, dust it off and put it back into your hands – this time with his fingerprints all over it. Then he will gladly move with you, helping you to learn to trust him and clapping loudly as you take the next step in the dance classes of life.