Have you ever loved something so much that you desperately wanted to waste time, body, and blood on it to the fullest degree humanly possible? I have. Twice.
At age four, Haley enters her first dance class. Fumbling, still-baby coordination. Learning beginner plies and jetes. Not even ballet really, just a lyrical worship dance. Basic ballet began at seven -"Point your toes. Good. Now bend your knees like this. See Haley? That's a plie. Heel forward on that tendu. Watch my feet! This is a chasse. No no, turn out on that grand jete! Spot your head faster for that double pirouette, Haley, or you'll never get around. Strong port de bras! Long fingers...better...keep trying." At age eleven, classical training began. Age fourteen, pointe shoes (say hello to blisters). At fifteen, I began dancing every day of the week (say hello to chronic tendonitis), as well as teaching a class full of 6-11 year olds. And now, at sixteen, I begin Adagio (partnering).
Beginning last year, I was certain ballet was going to be my career. My life. Something I would live and breathe and bleed for. No matter what it took, or how much it hurt, I was going to succeed, and nothing would stop me. (hehe...It cracks me up -in a grim, ironic sort of fashion- when I hear myself make absolute statements like that now.) As a Christian, I had plans to study with professional Christian companies, and eventually join one, after which I would spend the remainder of my career (possibly into my early forties) traveling the world with that company.
Splendid! I thought. So many other teens were struggling over what to do with their lives, struggling to find their place in society, struggling to see God's will -but guess what?! I was leaps and bounds ahead! I already knew! I was going to make this future happen -for God- because I couldn't imagine anything more wonderful.
Please understand. I'm not saying this path isn't a possibility in my life. But I'm saying I found something so undeniably greater that all that only barely sounds appealing.
That something is a He.
His name is Jesus Christ. Prince of Life. Merciful Savior. Morning Star. Man of Sorrows. Messiah. Lamb that was slain. Son of man. Son of God. Wonderful. Counselor. Mighty God. Prince of peace. King of kings. Creator of it all. Prodigal God (look for a later post explaining that name). Heavenly Priest. The Branch. The Dayspring.
And coming face to face with the Son of God is a bit like being run over by a semi. A million times. Except that a semi is nowhere near as impacting.
This has happened in little baby steps over the last year especially. I couldn't even begin to list all of the ways He has constantly been inviting me to look at more of who He is. He gives the gift of sight, and once you've seen Him, He's all you want to look at. And all this seemed to culminate, at least in the area of ballet, at the week long bible school held at my church January 1-7. What a way to kick-start one's year.
That week was seven days of weeping in intercession, of specific prayers answered specifically, of strong conviction, of seeing Christ for who He is, of glorifying God simply because He's God, of humbling yourself in front of your peers because God hates your pride, of seeing others break through walls of bitterness and fear. On the first day, I felt that if God answered another prayer, or showed His love and grace even a drop more, I would physically just break. I would curl up in a corner and cry, because I don't deserve any of it. Any of Him. During that week, I, and many others, came face to face with the person of Jesus Christ. I echo Job when, after God came and spoke to him in the whirlwind, he cried,
"I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
That's what it felt like. I'd never seen God as I was seeing Him then. I had heard, but never seen for myself...and that's when I began to realize that I am naught but dust. My life is a vapor that appears for a time, then passes away. A flower that lasts a season, and then falls withered to the ground. And Christ is all that I'm here for.
I began to realize that, very literally, nothing but the Cross mattered. My dreams for the future were like a grain of sand compared with Buckingham Palace. Forget Buckingham, the Taj Mahal! No, that's not great enough...a grain of sand compared with the whole universe! (For those who have watched Louie Giglio's "How Great is our God", you can grasp what I am trying to communicate.)
So ballet...just isn't important anymore. It's not that I don't enjoy it. It's not that I couldn't join a company. It's just that my relationship with Jesus is so much more precious than anything I can imagine; and a life filled with ballet no longer sounds like the ultimate existence.
By the grace and for the glory of God, I hope to continue in what I learned at bible school. And not just to continue, but to increase. I know that I have only barely tasted Christ, I have only barely tasted prayer, I have only barely tasted knowing Him. Without Him, I have absolutely no hope. Zero. I cannot accomplish any of the things I have spoken of that took place during bible school -I speak more with longing than with the understanding that comes with experience- except Christ change my life. I want Him to change me so radically that I seek a deeper relationship with Him purely for the sake of knowing Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering -not because I want people to think I'm spiritual. Let it be said of me that I always stood for Christ, when the world mocked.
Because once you've seen Him, you can never forget Him, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.