She danced as though no one was watching. But we were. We couldn’t look away.
No one else was dancing. Yet she danced in complete abandon. Face lifted toward the ceiling with a look on her face of peace and joy. Like real joy. She seemed so out of place because in this large group of people, no one else danced. We were singing, raising a hand occasionally to worship, but that was the farthest any of us were willing to go in our worship.
Later I learned that she had experienced such tragedy as her son was killed in a fiery car crash and she saw it happen. Unable to do anything to rescue her beloved son she was forced to surrender him to death in this life.
As a new mom I could not even begin to imagine the depth of agony she had endured and in some ways must still endure. Now that my children are grown and nearly grown I still think of her and my heart still breaks over her pain knowing that no matter how young or old our children may be – parents were never meant to outlive their own.
But every time I remember her and that dance of absolute abandon I am reminded that while many of us hadn’t discovered it yet, there was a cost for her kind of praise. She had experienced the depth of agony that many of us never will. And yet, in all of her pain, she found a way to let go. To turn her mourning and heartbreak into dancing before her King. To speak no words but, in every sway, twirl and bow, say to her Father that she surrendered all that she knew in this world for the promise of His forever. Where there are no more tears, or loss, or pain or suffering.
There was a woman who loved her Master so much she entered a house during a dinner party, uninvited and unwelcomed. Falling at His feet, she broke open a beautiful box made of Alabaster containing a very expensive bottle of perfume, poured it over His feet and with a stream of tears, washed His feet and dried them with her hair. While the men watched and ridiculed her for wasting such a treasure, her Master’s heart was moved at the depth and cost of her worship, and His love for her was so evident to everyone in the room, especially to her.
I believe that when she left His physical presence that evening, the smell of that perfume in her hair stayed with her for a very long time. A reminder that the cost of her praise brought her to a place of abandon. Not abandoned, but a safe place where she could abandon her sorrow, shame, grief, pain and loneliness for joy, feeling valued, cherished, fulfilled and the knowledge that she was truly loved and never really alone. The fragrance of her worship reminded her that she had been in the presence of her King and she was adored. No doubt, that beautiful fragrance was evident to those around her as well.
No one else can truly know the depth of our pain, our loss, our shame, our grief but Jesus. Likewise, no one will truly understand the cost of our praise, when we do the unthinkable, perhaps the unacceptable in the eyes of others. When we choose not to grow bitter and angry, but determine to abandon it all to worship, with all that we are, the One who looks at us with a love we’ve never experienced before. The kind of praise that brings us into the presence of the One who whispers to our soul, “I know the cost of your praise and your worship is beautiful and precious to Me. In this world, trouble WILL find you, but know this, I will NEVER leave you.”
Radical worship will look different on every one of us. But I know now that its only radical to the onlookers who don’t know the cost of our praise. To the King, who truly knows, it is absolutely beautiful.