As I drive the streets of my facebook friends’ posts and tags and farkles (whatever those are!?), I am reminded that this is Nutcracker season for Makenzie’s Ballet Company. (This would’ve been her last one with the dance family that she grew to love). For me, my mind sparkles with the memories of sharing that experience with her on stage.
Below is an article I wrote for the magazine Connect Quarterly a few years back, about dancing with my graceful daughter who now dances with Jesus:
“I cannot believe that I am publically going to admit this, but … this year, I am a ballerina. Ok, technically, a male ballerina is called a Cavalier but whatever the title, I’m making a sacrifice. Let me explain.
My daughter, Makenzie, is the real ballerina and every year, her company performs Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. If you have a child in this performance, you know that every level of dance is involved in the production. From little kids through older adults, every age group is on stage!
In The Nutcracker, one of the opening scenes involves adults at a Christmas Eve party at the Baron and Baroness Stahlbaum’s home. This scene requires adults to play the roles of partygoers and enjoy watching children dance, receive gifts and be entertained. With a shortage of talented adults, the casting representative became desperate and called me.
“Pastor Todd, would you play a part in your daughter’s Nutcracker performance?” When I thought about donning tights and ‘jazz shoes,’ visions of a bad Mel Brooks movie popped into my head.
Nevertheless, in a weak moment, I said yes. Yes, I will stumble around on stage, pretending I had grace. Yes, I will endure being the target of degrading jokes at work from those who do not understand the arts, but I don’t care.
I am doing this first for my daughter and secondly for me. You see, it is one thing to watch her dance from an anonymous chair in the back of a dark balcony. It’s quite another to be on stage with her, trading glances and smiles, dancing together, just the two of us in front of thousands.
Many of you reading this have the impression that God is not on your stage. That He is only watching from a distance as you try to find your next dance move. As you stumble from one broken relationship to another disappointment, you wonder if God even bought a ticket to your show.
Matthew 1:23 says,
“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”
Did you catch that? God is with you! Not just in the peaceful, fun times but especially in the dark, confusing times. He is on the stage of your life! Directing, producing, and performing with you in your ‘Nutcracker’. No matter what you think, no matter what you believe, no matter what you have experienced or endured, God is with you. He is Immanuel and He knows that the performance is not easy. He knows that sometimes your life is tough and the steps to the dance seem to get more and more difficult. But there is not a moment of your dance from which He is absent! Even when you think you don’t want Him involved, He is there.
Psalm 139:7 says,
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”
God being with you is what Christmas is about. You are not dancing alone! The Christmas celebration centers on Jesus coming to earth to be with us, from the first act to the drop of the final curtain, Jesus is with you.
So dance your heart out! Wear tights if you want to. Because your Immanuel, Jesus Christ, is with you, disciplining your sinful steps and loving you above it all!
By the way, if you are at one of the 14 performances of the Nutcracker in November and December, look for my daughter. She will be the graceful one with her proud dad only a whispers distance away.
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