Friday, January 18, 2008

The Rain Dance

At a mall, six Girl Scouts, about 10 years old, tumbled out of an SUV. Just as their feet hit the parking lot, raindrops the size of half-dollars, quarters and dimes pelted them.

I watched from the dry-cover of my vehicle while waiting for a friend. The little girl faces showed pure delight because of the water-pelting.

Arms outstretched, they twirled and tilted their faces skyward. Their mouths opened to catch rain-change and rinse down giggles. They didn’t seem to mind that their green vests, stucco-ed with merit badges, grew soggy.

The adult leader emerged from the driver’s seat, but the girls didn’t imitate her hurried walk under an umbrella. They continued their freedom-dance. Skipping, hopping, side-stepping, they ambled toward the mall entrance.

As far as I know, I alone witnessed their pleasure at encountering rain. So, playing off a favorite line from another author, I ask, Could you dance in the rain, if no one saw you but God?

One of my favorite scriptures about Jesus’ joy is in Hebrews, when the writer quotes an Old Testament scripture saying Jesus’ joy was above any who ever lived, “God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy” (1:9).

Bruce Marchiano says that Jesus’ joy is the most “obvious, most overlooked, most disregarded, most neglected, most misunderstood, most undefined . . . reality in all of Christendom.”

I admit that the atrocities of this world come clothed as robbers, joy-consumers. Bad news gobbles up happiness. Even though bouncy joy may be lost for a time, the loss is not forever. Jesus was aware of the horrors of life, but he and believers know that God will eventually right all injustices.

Injustices-righted is one reason for joy. God can and will correct the things we have no power to fix. There’s going to be a happy ending for those whom God acknowledges as sons and daughters.

When I’m reading my Bible and I come across a jubilant passage such as “The joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10), I draw a little stick figure, its arms raised in praise. It’s my way of taking notice of how many times, praise, joy, handclapping and elation about God’s care is noted in the biblical text.

God is the true source of joy. I know that circumstances often step between us and that knowledge, but the joy is still God’s to give. Ask, seek, and knock for this true joy. Expect to receive it. Thank you, Girl Scouts, for the reminder that it’s possible to dance, even in the rain.

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