The day began with a great sense of anticipation, it was Sunday, and as always there was a certain amount of anticipation for the obvious reasons. After all it is the Lords Day and anything is possible. Yet brewing and bubbling in the deeper recesses of my own heart was another reason. Something I had looked forward to for a long time, something that I likewise had been praying about for a long time as well. Now here it was, the day I had been waiting for, the day when I would see with my own eyes how all the prayers and all the work would come together to culminate in a performance that in my mind was brilliant.
For those that know my oldest daughter (Isabel) they know that she is a quiet and reserved young woman. Not one to make a fuss or even attempt to stand out for any reason at all. Isabel has never been one to crave attention. I often use my children in sermon illustrations and when I do, I absolutely expect there to be some fallout when I get home. She has always been this way, even in school she was afraid to raise her hand and ask questions about matters she didn’t understand.
Having said all that I was shocked when she came to me several years ago and said she wanted to take ballet. My first thoughts were that she would try it out, only to discover very quickly she was swimming in the wrong lake and want to jump out as quickly as she jumped in. To my surprise, she fell in love with it. Since that time her love has only grown and matured in ways I never expected. Unfortunately in the ballet world Isabel had a late start. This has haunted her for years, thinking that she will never overcome in diligence what she lost in time. The 6 or 7 years prior to her starting ballet, in her mind were critical and formative years…years that she missed.
However discouraged she was and is when she thinks too long about those lost years, she never let it be a deterrence. She only pushed harder, trained harder, stretched more often, read more books, and followed more dancers. One day she came to me and asked if I would let her try out for a summer intensive in Atlanta. I prayed about it and agreed, the only roadblock she had left was her mother. Who for obvious reasons is very protective of her children. Initially the answer was no. Isabel would come to me and ask if I would talk to her momma and try to convince her to say yes to her dreams. I would tell her to pray, “pray that your momma would have a change of heart and concede to your dreams, with the knowledge that this could be God’s will for your life, and the only way to find out would be to travel this road.” There is just as much of a need for missionaries in the liberal arts as there is in Africa.
This went on for what seemed like months, then one day while in her room I noticed a small notebook that read “BALLET JOURNAL”. I did the unthinkable…I read her journal. Afterwards I sat on her bed and cried, this journal was full of prayers, prayers that her father would approve, prayers that her mother would approve, prayers that God would help her on this journey. Until then I had no idea just how important this was. I prayed harder and with more sincerity as a result. Eventually God would answer her prayers and Lori would concede to the idea of Isabel going off for the summers to study this art she had come to love.
So here it was, the day that I had prayed for and longed for in my own heart, the day that Isabel would take center stage and dance on her own, her first real Solo since she began this journey. My heart was racing in the moments leading up this cataclysmic event. My eyes shifted from left to right scanning the stage and waiting impatiently while at the same time never wanting this moment to end. Suddenly she appears and I watch in utter amazement at the beauty of it all. This was my daughter, the shy one, the one that never wanted the spotlight, and here she is embracing her moment and dancing as I had never witnessed her dance before. With every leap from the stage my heart would leap from my chest. The beauty and the grace literally took my breath away, and just like I had after reading her journal…I sat and wept.
In the midst of all that I was feeling in that moment my mind shifted to the passages of scripture that tell us of a time when David danced before the Lord. I realized then that David too must have felt a great deal of anticipation as he waited for the day when he could finally bring the Ark back to its proper home. The dancing seemed to be an impulse that he couldn’t shake, the day that he had waited for was now finally here and the natural response for him was to dance. I’m not quite sure how Isabel feels about it in her own heart, but looking back I cant help but wonder if the same was true for her. That in some way all of those years she had prayed and begged God to give her the chance had now culminated in what I will dare to say was the proudest moment of my life as her father…
I Love You Isabel, and I couldn’t be prouder.