dancing with the Father

i won’t lie,
it feels like i’ve run a marathon backwards

none of this:
one step forward, three steps back

i’ve just been running backwards


my actions, my schedule, my priorities

all of these
have been in a state of breathlessness
the Lord has not breathed life into my life
because i have not created room for His breath, His life


aren’t we all just
holding our breath
“this too shall pass”

have we forgotten
that in the waiting
He is shaping

this is an invitation

a soul-searching

s t i l l n e s s

at my Pop’s funeral in April,
the Pastor shared what Pop had told him
eight years earlier:
“be still … that’s why a lot of people don’t know God
Pop had responded to the invitation in Psalm 46:10

how often might we fail to hear and see Him,
because we fail to be still.

you might be wondering
how stillness fits with the notion of dancing with the Father
surely dancing defeats the purpose of a selah pause

actually, i would argue dancing invites selah

selah is an interjection, a Hebrew word found at the ending of verses in Psalms
selah is interpreted as an instruction calling for a break in the singing of the Psalm
it may also mean “forever”

when we dance with the Father
we are invited into a life of motion and miracles, but also of stillness and selah:
we dance to the language of the liminal,
the rhythms of godwardness;
we dance the tightrope of life and death,
learning the choreography of either a life of righteousness or a life of sin.

b u t

dancing can be draining
especially when we depend on our own strength

this is why
i would argue that dancing invites selah

when we dance with our Father and find ourselves feeling drained,
we can pause and find a new pace;
we do not need a break from our Father,
but a break from the dancing.

when we pause and find a new pace,
we can seek his Face and rest in his Strength,
so that we have the stamina to dance again.

i want to share a picture, an analogy, of what this dancing with the Father looks like:

dancing with the father

when i was a little girl,
my brother and i would occasionally play on the front yard,
we had a patch of grass there,
where we would ask our father to play a game with us.

the game was similar to ring around the rosy,
but we changed the rules a bit.

to play this game,
we would dance around our father and sing.

we would then take it in turns
being twirled and swirled.

in order to dance with our Father
we needed to face and walk towards him,
step onto his shoes, and go on our tippy toes.

we would then need to latch our arms around his elbows,
hold onto his forearms for dear life,
before being miraculously lifted off the ground.

we were then
s p u n,
parallel to the ground,
t h r o w n,
up and down, up and down,
s p u n , and , s p u n ,
some more
u n t i l
all the momentum was gone.

as soon as we stopped spinning and slowly returned to the ground,
i would always want to go again. 

none of this delirious dizziness:
i was dancing with my Father

i was reminded of this game on the weekend,
when listening to a podcast where the guest described her relationship with God
as dancing with her Father

when asked how scripture flows from her so freely
she simply described how she dances with the Father every morning

when she says dancing with the Father
i think she means the same kind of
that was a part of the game i played as a child

if i think about the dynamic of dancing with the Father:
i realise that i used to think it was me who needed to hold on tight;
that if i didn’t position myself right,
then i wouldn’t stay in my Father’s arms;
flying into the sky or falling to grass.

what i never noticed
was that my holding on
was more-so for my own peace of mind
the real holding
was coming from the arms of my Father

there is SO MUCH comfort in this

while i always had to latch onto my father’s arms before we went for a dance,
it was always my father who first opened his arms to me.

my father would stand palms up,
almost in a posture of surrender to his children.
we would then come to our father,
wrapping our arms around his forearms,
clasping at his elbows.

while i had believed this dynamic
to be dependant on my ability to hold on,
reliant on my own strength:
in reality, it was my father who was holding me firmly.

he maintained this with firm fingers around my shoulders,
at the dividing joint of bone and marrow.
he would ensure that his strength was not overriding mine,
but also that his strength was keeping me safe and sure in his arms.

i think the same situation is probably the case
when we think about our relationship with Jesus,
and what it means to be dancing with our Father.

in the Fathers arms,
when we come to him,
when we face him,
pointing to him in our posture and life,
He waits with open arms for us,
yearning for us to reach out
a n d
grab a hold of
ALL that He is
and ALL that He has for us

it is so easy to fall into the trap
of thinking that our relationship with Him
and our ability to dance with Him as son or daughter
is dependent on our ability to hold fast

to some degree this is true
is this not what the bible says to us?

“you shall fear the Lord your God;
you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him,
and you shall swear by His name.”

[ Deut. 10:20 ]

“examine everything carefully;
hold fast to that which is good;”

[ 1 Thes. 5:21 ]

“Christ is faithful over God’s house as as a Son —
And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence
and our boasting in our hope”

[ Heb. 3:6 ]

“for we have become partakers of Christ,
if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end”

[ Heb 3:14 ]

“therefore, since we have a great high priest
who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God,
let us hold fast our confession.”

[Heb. 4:14]

“let us hold fast the confession of our hope
without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;”

[ Heb. 10:23 ]

there is a degree of truth
because this is a crucial step:
our willingness and posture before our Father

b u t
this is not solely about our strength

you will notice in that last verse that He who promised is faithful:
our Father is faithful in His promises
we do not hold fast to a passive hope, but a LIVING hope
[ see 1 Pet. 1:3 ]

He holds the whole earth in His hands!!
the WHOLE earth!
now THAT is a strength and a love that does not let go!

here is what the bible reminds us:

“fear not, for i am with you;
be not dismayed, for i am your God;
i will strengthen you, i will help you,
i will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

[ Is. 41:10 ]

“for I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “fear not, I am the one who helps you.””

[ Is. 42:13 ]

“even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
[ Ps. 139:10 ]

“he will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.”

[ Is. 40:11 ]

“the eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
[ Deut.33:27 ]

there is another element of dancing with the Father:
this is something i am more hesitant to speak into without proper theological training,
around the notion of falling away.

i’ve had this conversation with friends many times,
as to whether it is possible to fall away from God forever,
whether is final, or whether there is hope of repentance and returning to the Father.

there is often discussion/debate/deliberation
about whether those who truly “fall away”
were ever really saved by grace through faith in the first place
[ see Eph. 2:8 ]

i think the analogy of a Father dancing with his child
paints a picture of what it means to be a child of God.

if the child let’s go,
and is no longer willing to dance with her Father,
no longer trusts that He will hold her
through those ups and downs, when her feet aren’t on the ground,
when she is no longer willing to face him, to step towards him, to place her feet on his,
then the Father will allow her to turn away,

this doesn’t mean He doesn’t want to hold her,
it doesn’t mean He wouldn’t continue holding onto her.

it simply means
that He has given her free will,
He has given her a choice,
a n d
she has chosen
to turn away from Him.

while we can turn away
a n d
decide we don’t want to dance with our Father anymore,
i think the parable of the prodigal son
shows us something of the Father’s heart.
[ see Luke 15:11–32 ]

even if we leave Him, even if we turn from him,
even if we stop dancing with Him,
even if we stop trusting that He holds us in His loving arms:
He is constant, He is unchanging
His strength remains, His love remains

He still holds the world in his hands,
that does not change.

i believe that the Father is standing
palms up and open,
just waiting for His children
to come to Him, to trust Him, to hold onto Him

can you imagine if His children return after turning away:
how much TIGHTER he would hold onto them!
how much FIRMER would His loving arms be!
how much CLOSER would He hold them to His heart!
how much JOY would He find in dancing with His child!

the Father is waiting for us all to come home
His invitation, His arms, His heart, is open.

i do believe it is possible to fall away from Him
but i also believe it is still possible to repent and come back to Him
to return to dancing with our Father
that is His heart!
that is His love!
that is His grace!

i’m no theologian, but i’m willing to hear alternate thoughts on this
it is worth noting that the bible gives us some parameters for “falling away”
and the circumstances and consequences surrounding this
i’ll explore these further below,
but i also put the question to the insta world:

“do you think it is possible to ‘fall away’ from faith”
“whether yes or no, do you believe falling away is a forever thing?
or do you believe it is possible to return to God with a repentant heart?”

i’d like to thank those who responded,
and share their responses here:

“possible? yes. permanent? not always.
i think people learn at a different pace & change.”

“hebrews 6:4-6 would suggest it is possible to fall away but to not come back”

“yes, i believe you can fall away,
and return with a repentant heart”

“to be honest i don’t know.
lately i’ve been having a real heart and head battle
where i just haven’t been ‘feeling it’
and trusting God’s goodness and character
has been a fight of mind and heart.
i’ve had to literally not listen to my heart
and just trust what I know about God
and what He says in His word
to move forward with any sense of peace.
but I could see how people
who don’t actively engage in that battle
could step by step ‘fall away’.
whatever that looks like.
cause like,
our faith doesn’t just stay alive on it’s own.
we need to tend to it, feed it, encourage it and protect it.
but then we are also taught
that it isn’t what we do that saves us,
we just need to believe
and God holds us in that.
so i really don’t know.
cause then John 15 says
we cannot bear fruit unless we remain in Jesus.
and James teaches that faith without works
(fruit/evidence you are on the vine) is dead.
so if someone once believed but now has no fruit are they still saved?
it’s something i’ve been grappling with lately”

i wanted to share these,
despite the growing length of this post
because these demonstrate
the tension
the dance
there is a battle
b e t w e e n
spirit and flesh, heart and mind, life and death,
us holding on and God holding us

the bible certainly does have clear warnings about the danger of falling,
and there is a particular passage i want to share
that was referenced in a response above:

“for it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened,
who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,
and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance,
since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm
and holding him up to contempt.
for land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it,
and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated,
receives a blessing from God. but if it bears thorns and thistles,
it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.”

[ Heb. 6:4-8 ]

now this clearly articulates
that there is a possibility of falling away
and not being restored again in repentance.

note that this passage speaks of an intimacy with the Trinity:
a knowing and tasting and sharing in the gifts of God.
this passage also speaks to the concerns raised in one of the responses above,
regarding the fruitfulness and worth of a crop.
note that the language of falling away is associated to the bearing of thorns and thistles.

to understand this warning of apostasy,
we need to check the context of this passage,
we need to first establish what this intimacy with God looks like,
and then to establish what falling away looks like.

thankfully, if we turn to earlier in Hebrews,
a prior warning is highlighted [ see 3:7-10 ]:

the Spirit says to those who hear His voice, not to harden their hearts
this is commanded as a recollection of past rebellion,
‘on the day of testing in the wilderness’ they were said, in those times,
to ‘go astray in their heart’, they had ‘not known’ the ways of the Lord
and the warning: “as i swore in my wrath, ‘they shall not enter my rest”

the consequence of a failure to hear and soften our hearts before the Lord
is a lack of intimacy and knowing His ways, and a lack of entering into His rest.

w o w
we are coming full circle here
remember the
r e s t l e s s n e s s

if we continue reading in Hebrews, working our way towards the above passage [6:4-8]
along the way, we encounter these verses:

“take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart,
leading you to fall away from the living God. but exhort one another every day,
so long as it is called ‘today’, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

[ 3:12-3 ]

“and to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? so we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief”
[ 3:18-9 ]

note here that the root of apostasy is our hearts
the analogy
of thorns and thistles for”falling away”
exposes how our hearts

can be hardened by sin or jaded by unbelief
and how
when our our hearts fail to hear
this can lead to disobedience

we do not find rest for our souls
so we become restless
we forget His voice, His word, His truth

we start listening to other things
our hearts hungry and thirsty

instead of resting in God, we start testing God
which can lead to us receiving evil into our hearts
[evil being the antithesis of the goodness of God]

when we no longer rest in God,

remaining in the true Vine, Jesus,
we can no longer bear fruit
to bear fruit is an outward sign
of an inward condition of the heart.
once our hearts begin to harden,
to receive evil and worldly nourishment,
this in turns changes our outward condition.
the danger is, that when this happens, we often look to fix the outer,
we seek to bear fruit again, for fear of being thorn and thistle,
we begin serving without sincerity, giving without gratitude,
but if we look closely,
the root of falling brings us back to our hearts,
and whether we are found dancing with our Father,
abiding in Christ, dwelling in the Word.

this aligns to what we read in 1 Tim. 4:1-5,
where we find another warning that:
“some will depart from the faith”
where their devotion turns to deceit and disobedience
where their hearts turn from the truth

[ i found this blog post helpful on this passage ]

b u t
while our hearts can go astray
are hearts can also be found
when we meet Jesus,
we meet Truth

“i have this against you,
that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
remember therefore from where you have fallen;
repent, and do the works you did at first.
if not, i will come to you
and remove your lampstand from its place,
unless you repent.”

[ Rev. 2: 4-5 ]

note: repentance and action go hand-in-hand here
in our hearts returning to our first Love

while the bible does contain warnings
there are also promises and truths

i do not want us to be found disheartened but dancing

if we keep reading in Hebrews:

“there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,
for whoever has entered God’s rest
has also rested from his works as God did from his.
let us therefore strive to enter that rest,
so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience”

[ 4:9-11 ]

dancing invites selah

the question is,
how do we enter into this selah?
how do we be still and know God?
how do we rest in God instead of test God?

the truth is here,
we can strive to enter this rest

this verse is followed by the striking image of the word of God as LIVING and ACTIVE
we discover that His word can pierce the division of soul and spirit, joint and marrow!
those tensions? the heart and mind, spirit and flesh, life and death, dance and selah?
His word is LIVING and ACTIVE, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

if the root of apostasy is our hearts,
then the key to intimacy is the Word;
there we learn to listen, to hear His heart,
as He searches our hearts by His Spirit!

there is hope for the disheartened:
when we meet Jesus
we meet a great high priest who can sympathise with our weakness
[Heb 4:15]
“he can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness”
[ Heb 5:2 ]
when we meet Jesus
we meet the Beloved Son:
“although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.
and being perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”

[ Heb 5:8-9 ]

Jesus has taught us
how to be obedient
in our walk towards His open arms
obedient to the point of death
obedience with pierced palms
we can be obedient
knowing he learned obedience
we can be obedient
knowing our obedience
leads us to our Fathers loving arms

we do not strive for salvation, Jesus is the source of our eternal salvation
we strive to enter God’s rest, the place of hearing and knowing and trusting

we are coming full circle here
remember the
s t i l l n e s s

when we are still,
we taste and see that the Lord is good
when we are still,
our hearts enter His rest
when we are still,
we hear and learn to hope

how often might we fail to hear and see Him,
because we fail to be still.

though there are warnings
for our hearts to heed
there is a word for our hearts to feed

while Heb. 6:4-8 is an intimidating passage, keep reading:
“though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved,
we feel sure of better things – things that belong to salvation”

[ Heb 6:9 ]

for the beloved children of God
for those dancing with the Father
there are better things
there is that which belongs to salvation
there is a strong encouragement for the soul
to HOLD FAST to the HOPE set before us

[ Heb 6:18 ]
this is a HOPE
where Jesus has gone
[ Heb 6:20 ]
and Jesus tells us
where he has been and where he is going

[ John 14 ]

here is a promise for the children of God:
“i give them eternal life, and they will never perish,
and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

my Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
[ Jesus in John 10:28-9 ]

to finish,
i want to come back to the statement i made at the beginning of this post

whether we feel like
we are stepping backwards or forwards,
sideways or straight:
when we are dancing to the feet of our Father,
and when we are found in the arms of our Father,
we can rest in His promises to us.

while i thought i was going the wrong way, running a marathon backwards,
all i was really doing was focusing on my own feet, my own strength, my own dancing
i simply stopped seeing the Father’s feet, the Father’s hands, the Father’s plan.

i need to remember that:
dancing with the Father is an invitation into selah with the Father

when i remember to praise and pause,
i find peace in His presence,

in turn, i can tune in to His pace,
and the rhythms of His grace.

if you, like me, have struggled to see the Father’s feet, the Father’s hands, the Father’s plan;
let’s dwell on a very well-known, well-loved passage of scripture from Jeremiah 29 to finish.

it is easy, when you have heard something before, or many times before,
to forget to soak and reflect on what you are hearing.

so let’s soak and reflect:

“for I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord
“plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
then you will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
i will be found by you”, declares the Lord


but for now,
let’s soak and reflect:
> the Lord knows the plans He has for us (note: this knowledge is not promised to us…)
> the Lord’s plans are for our welfare, not for evil (note: His intentions are good)
> the Lord’s plans give us a future and hope (note: to have a future and hope is a GIFT,
this language implies that it is RECEIVED, not EARNED, not STRIVED for,
not of our own will or persuasion, these are a good gift from a good God)
> the first action for us here, apart from trusting and receiving, is SEEKING
> we are to seek the Lord, with all our heart (note: the promise, that we will FIND)

the reason i wanted us to dwell on this scripture to finish,
is for it to shed light and hope to our hearts
particularly surrounding the dynamic of dancing with our Father

may we not be found testing God, but resting in God
may we not be found breathless, but breathing selah
may we not be found running, but in the rhythms of grace
may we not be found turning, but in the trusting arms of our Father
may we not be found in disobedience, but dancing with our Father

may grace abound to you in Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour,

Respond from the Heart