So I had the most awesome weekend.
I flew down to central Japan, where the heat is so ferociously humid, to have a long overdue catch up trip with some friends and a church that I super, super love. So in the last 3 days I have crammed in a selection of eating, praying, receiving many hugs, singing, dancing, talking about life, talking about Jesus, laughing till I hurt, playing instruments… And more eating. Always eating.
It’s been one of those weekends that was super good for my heart, even if right now, as I sit on a Shinkansen back to Tokyo for my flight home, I feel pretty exhausted in my body. I hadn’t seen some of these guys in pretty much exactly two years so there’s been a lot to catch up on. And as I’m now feeling like I was actually there for a week rather than a couple of days, I’d say it was quite effective.
So as I’ve got an hour to kill I’m going to try to sum up a little of what I’ve spent hours talking about…
Stuff like freedom, and worship, and faith, and loving Jesus, and loving people. Things about overcoming fear, and overcoming failure, and pressing into joy.
Let me tell you a story.
Today me and two of my friends (one old, one new) spent some time dancing in a park.
Yep. You did read that right.
We went for breakfast, and then after we’d eaten decided that it made total sense to climb up to a large roof garden on one of the tallest buildings in the city at 9am to dance around to ‘I’m Walking on Sunshine’ for a while.
We filmed the whole song. It will probably make an emergence on social media in the near future.
It was pure, crazy, ridiculous, joy.
Over-excited, laughing-so-hard, spinning about, ridiculous joy.
Looked a little bit (okay a lot) crazy.
On top of a really tall building. In a public place. A real public place.
So when we started dancing there was one old guy in the park. Which was totally fine. We thought he might just think we were cute young(ish) people or something.
But then, and 2 minutes into the song… A security guard came.
He stood for a moment, temporarily shocked. His eyes widened at three crazy looking people laughing and spinning to music in the middle of his park.
And then he smiled. Nodded. Said nothing at all and walked on past our recording camera to continue his rounds.
We kept dancing.
And it left me with this thought.
It’s important to keep dancing.
It’s vital to hold onto joy.
Sometimes you feel a bit crazy. And sometimes when the gaze of other people gets questioning or critical you are tempted to stop. There are times where life throws you the darkness and you feel too cynical to move your feet…
Well, those are the times that it’s important to keep dancing.
To not stop.
I was talking with a slightly-less-optimistic (but very lovely) friend last week and he said to me, ‘Do you ever think you’re too optimistic?’
And I seriously thought about that question.
And then I thought about God.
About His grace.
The grace that sent Him to the earth on a quest to redeem a fallen humanity who showed Him no love and no encouragement. A God who gave everything to be close to those who had only ever rejected Him. A God who fights for my heart, even in its sinful failure.
Looking a little bit (okay a lot) crazy.
I mean, what God does that?
Who does that?
God. Breathing that same life and joy into us.
And calling us to love others with that same heart.
Sometimes I think we live life like we’re sat in the airport with a few hours to kill. We actually use words like ‘boring’ to describe our relationships with others (if not in speech, in our heads). We just kind of hurry through life in the stress and and survival mode that sucks the joy right out of it. We don’t truly connect, and in that, we don’t truly love.
But Jesus didn’t just die for us to gain access to heaven when we die, He died and rose from death so that we could… Live. Really live. Lives of love. Lives that count. With Him. Forever.
He enabled me to dance.
That in everything I do, I would be changed, and thankful and overflowing with compassion. That every action that I undertook would be laced and graced with love.
Shane Claiborne writes this brilliant quote that sums up my thoughts today: All around you, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. But dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip or dance, just don’t tiptoe.
I mean, that’s my feeling today. Don’t tiptoe through life in the hollows of cynicism and fear. Dance. Or run. Or hop. Or skip. Or however it is you move.
But don’t tiptoe.
I love you all… And Hamamatsu-legends, thanks for an epic one. I love you!