The Dance of Intimacy
“You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” (Psalm 30:11-12, NRSV)
Psalm 30 is a psalm of relief. The writer is expressing gratitude to God for saving him or her from what appeared to be a terminal illness. After recounting the fear and the tears, the hopelessness and the despair, the Psalmist declares praise to God for having been delivered from whatever disease threatened her or his life. It’s the kind of story we like to hear that goes something like this: “Things are bad. God steps in. Everything is great again!” Unfortunately, it’s not always how the story ends. Sometimes the healing doesn’t come. Sometimes the disease doesn’t go away. Sometimes, death seemingly overtakes one’s life.
Intimacy with God is not developed through a life of ease. As a matter of fact, intimacy with anyone is only achieved through facing the challenges of life together. There is struggle. There is misunderstanding. There is forgiveness. There is frustration. There is compromise. There is cooperation. There is trial. There is error. There is growth. There is connection. There is progress. And on the other side of all the striving and the collaboration (literal co-laboring!), intimacy emerges as the shared experiences of failure and success lead to a sense of closeness and trust. There is no easy way to intimacy. It’s a dance.
This Sunday, I will share more about the steps we take in developing intimacy with God through the dance-like movements in our lives. As I’ve stated several times in this series of sermons, the beautiful thing about our relationship with God is that God is always the initiator. We can never move toward God before God is already moving toward us—drawing us into his loving arms to embrace us and enfold us in his love.
Even when it seems as if God is distant or may not be listening to us in our distress, we can be assured that God is actively at work, extending his love and grace to us. Intimacy with God is rooted in believing in the goodness of God, even when the evidence of God’s goodness is absent. Intimacy with God is nurtured through trusting that no matter the outcome, God is working in every situation for our good. It’s not easy, but we grow deeper in our relationship with God, the struggle is worth the joy. In all circumstances, may we be able to echo the words of the Psalmist: “You have turned my mourning into dancing!”