The High School Dance
“She’ll never dance with me” he said, surrounded by his high school buddies along the sidelines of the high school gymnasium. "Give it a shot, man” his buddies tell him, “you never know - she might say ‘yes’” He begins the process of getting up the courage for the big encounter on the dance floor. It would be easier if he knew what she was thinking . . . if only he knew whether or not she wanted to dance. Because in reality, the biggest fear racing through his mind was of the unknown. If he knew she didn’t like him, there wouldn’t be any excitement at the possibility of her saying “yes”. So instead, he stands in horrified terror with a thousand possible scenarios running through his adolescent mind.
Eventually he musters the courage and takes that initial step onto the dance floor, his eyes locked on his goal - a sophomore girl named Valarie. His hands begin to sweat as he nears her; standing in the center of the floor dancing with her friends. His mouth is dry his legs are a bit shaky. As he stands there he realizes she’s been looking at him the whole time, talking to her friends about how she wishes he would just ask her to dance. He doesn’t yet know this second part, of course, but her smile makes it a bit easier to approach her group. After another 45 seconds they’re on the dance floor by themselves, her friends watching as they dance together.
We can identify with this poor guy, right? We’ve all had the experience of uncertainty about whether or not someone we like feels the same toward us. How much easier would it have been to know their intent early on in the dating scene! It would make everything so much easier.
I think that’s how it is with God (you didn’t see that one coming, did you?). We spend so much of our lives feeling like we don’t know if we’re good enough . . . smart enough . . . if we measure up or if we’re a disgrace. We search the world over for some hint as to what our identity is—asking friends along the way, hoping for a hint. Church doesn’t make it any easier, sometimes. In all honesty, sometimes church makes it even worse (who hasn’t ever left a church service or encounter with a Christian feeling just a bit like you’re not enough?).
Here’s a little secret that I hope doesn’t stay a secret too long . . . are you ready? GOD LOVES YOU. He’s nuts about you. He thinks you are the best thing he created (okay, so he thinks that about everyone but still - how cool is that?!) In fact, we’re not the guy in the high school dance story - God is. He’s the one approaching us. He desires relationship with us. He wants us to love him. He cares about us. And I honestly believe he is devastated when we turn him down. In fact, he’s been pursuing you since you were created . . . pointing out at every juncture of life his love for you. In a sunset, in the smile of a child, or in the warmth of an embrace from a loved one. He’s been pursuing you. We call that prevenient grace, or grace that “goes before”. Maybe a better way of putting it is, God takes the initiative in the relationship.
So instead of hoping that he likes you . . . instead of being in suspense about his intentions for you, let me clue you in on the deal . . . his intentions for you is that you would enjoy being in a relationship with him just as you are. Right now. No suspense and no lectures. He desperately desires a relationship with you. And within that relationship he wants to help you be who he created you to be.
So don’t buy any substitutes . . . don’t settle for anything other than this simple truth . . . God loves you right where you are. Just as you are. All your flaws, even in the midst of any sin you find yourself tangled up in. He loves you. He’s crazy for you. He takes delight in thinking about how good of a creation he made when he made you.
When we accept that, there’s plenty of theological terms we use . . . were forgiven, we’re reconciled, we’re justified . . . but it all comes down to this: when we get that God loves us and we accept what that means and we receive that love, we become children of his. Because that’s who he created you to be.
You are LOVED. Don’t ever forget it.