"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
"Mom, what should I do if I mess up? What should I do if I misstep?" Gabrielle was feeling the jitters of dancing in her very first Irish Feis (dance competition) this past Saturday. She had practiced and prepared, yet she was asking me about the "what ifs" of the feis. I answered her, "Honey, if you mess up your steps, just keeping looking up at the judge, keep smiling and keep on dancing." I knew as I said these words, they were more about a life lesson than an Irish dance competition. And it wasn't a matter of if, it was a surety of when.
We misstep. We mess up. We all do. And while there is comfort in us all being on the same dance floor of life, none of us want to mess up or misstep.
Before leaving home, Gabrielle asked me to tie her competition shoes. I did so with care, and I double knotted them, just to be sure. We prayed together as I drove Gabrielle to the feis. She was feeling excited and nervous all at the same time as we arrived. Telling her that was normal, we held hands tightly as she bravely walked into the feis venue. Animated Irish music and the buzz of excitement filled the air. She squeezed my hand and smiled.
Gabrielle works hard at those things to which she commits. Whether it is a friendship, a God-given talent, a Bible memorization kids club or an academic goal, she works diligently. So,when her shoe came untied in the middle of her third (and last) dance for the feis competition, she looked at me from the stage with wide eyes holding back tears, and I mouthed to her "Just keep dancing, Honey. Keep your eyes on the judge. Keep smiling."
And she did. Ice arms and fire feet...she kept on Irish dancing and fixed her eyes on the judge. Her long untied laces seemingly whipping her legs, she kept on kicking up her Irish feet. Gabrielle's composure moved my heart. She was dancing, keeping her eyes on the judge and smiling.
I had been the one to tie her shoes...I double-knotted them. But they came untied. Yet she did not come undone. Digging deep into God's treasure of truth, the life lesson was playing out on stage before a crowd of witnesses. And she kept on dancing...keeping her eyes on our true Judge, our Heavenly Father, looking to Him for strength, courage and joy. She was looking unto Jesus while dancing with her untied shoes. And she did not come undone...because His power is made perfect in our weakness. "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthian 12:9
The grace and understanding of the judge exemplified for Gabrielle the grace and compassion of our Lord. She kept her eyes on him and had joy in her heart as she kept on dancing. After some seemingly long moments for this Irish momma, he quietly and gently signaled for the Irish musician to stop playing so Gabrielle could re-tie her shoes and start her dance over again.
Grace and compassion to start again. Thank you, Lord, for this life lesson lived out for Gabrielle before an audience and with a wise and gracious of judge. You, God, are amazing. Gabrielle had not misstepped, even with the untied shoe lace dancing around in a dance all its own. Yet the judge knew it was distracting her and also possibly dangerous to her. So, he paused the music so she could begin again. Wisdom. Gentleness. Grace.
As Jim, me, Joshua, Nan Nan, Uncle PJ, Aunt Anne and many others looked on, Gabrielle started again. Composed and joyful, she smiled and completed her dance with enthusiasm, grace and gratitude. I could hardly wait to hug her; not because she had danced well, but because she kept on dancing, she smiled and she kept her eyes on the judge.
Gabrielle was so thankful and excited to receive 2nd place out of 23 dancers for the dance in which her shoe became untied, and she received 1st place in her other two dances. We are so proud of her, and we give God the glory and thanks.
Yet, our proudest moment of Gabrielle wasn't the awards she won or the places she earned. Our proudest moment of Gabrielle in her first Irish feis was when she kept on dancing with a distracting and menacing untied shoe. Our proudest moment of Gabrielle was the life lesson of truth she lived out on stage while many watched. "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him..."
Our sweet Irish Lassie kept her eyes on the One that mattered most and she kept on dancing.
Untied, but not undone. Thank you, Jesus. We give You praise!
"My eyes are ever on the LORD,
for only He will release my feet from the snare."