This is Sunday. Well, I haven’t gone to sleep yet, so it’s still Sunday to me. And it’s almost Easter. How we got into March so quickly, I just don’t know. But I say that each month. ; ) Whether we like it or not, time keeps on going. With or without us. (And I know you hear that so often, it’s a cliche now; still, it’s true…)
I wish I could go back and redo a few things; that would be really nice. Erase unkind words; edit out stupid choices; not be in such a rush; not try to be anybody but who I am; put what’s important at the top of my list; make sure people I love know how much; be a better daughter, sister, friend… Oh so many things…
I think I danced my 20s away… Seriously. I doubled as an English and theatre/dance major — and chose equal time in both theatre and dance — so was in the studio many hours a week. And then I choreographed and taught dance for a performing arts company. And I performed in university shows and dinner-theatre musicals. And waited tables with my friend Gretchen at a brewery, where we danced the can-can, the polka, and other international dances. And when there was time, I’d go dancing with friends for the fun of it. I loved to dance.
One time, after a Saturday-night play rehearsal, I rushed home to change into my favorite black going-out-dancing outfit, then dashed back out to the club. I was meeting a couple of friends there. But they called and said they were running late. But I was already there…
I didn’t go into the clubs alone, as I never wanted to look like a pick-up. I just wanted to dance. So I waited. The club was in a hotel, so I sat in the lobby. But as guys passed by, I felt like a pick-up, and didn’t like it one bit. I called my friends. They hadn’t left yet, but promised they were going to that second. They were in another city about 30 minutes away.
“Okay. I’ll just wait right here then…”
But then God interrupted. It was one of those moments when you knew He was the One talking. Period.
“Uh-uh,” I said.
But He asked again.
“Yeah, right.” (No, I wasn’t talking out loud, but this was how my inner reply was going…) I avoided the looks from more guys passing by. “If I go in there by myself, I’m going to look like a pick-up, and I don’t want to do that!”
So I sat there some more. Time would go by, and my friends would be there soon. But it was sure uncomfortable to just sit there when you knew the God of Universe had just asked a favor of you.
I sighed. “Okay, okay.” I stood up. “But you keep close by me. I don’t like this one bit. And you know it.”
Avoiding all looks, I went through the doors and into the club. The music pulsated. Shoulder-to-shoulder people. Big dance floor. I figured I’d make my way across and sit at a table near a wall, and see what God was up to.
As I made my way through the crowd, I kept my focus on the other side. And then I spotted the bartender. I knew him! Yea! Some familiar face. So that’s where I headed. We had worked together at a restaurant.
I hopped onto the bar stool and he ran over to greet me, then offered me a free drink, whatever I wanted. (Growing up Catholic, I believed in moderation. But I never drank when I went out dancing. Except water. Besides saving money, I just wanted to dance. That’s all. But at this moment, a good margarita sounded nice.)
But then God… I felt Him tell me to just order water and nothing else. Seriously.
“Just water,” I said slowy. “With lemon, please.”
My friend asked again.
“No, thank you. But that’s so sweet. Just water.”
I smiled, he smiled. He set the water in front of me, then had to get back to his job. And there I sat. Alone. Not realizing there was an empty bar stool next to me. Great.
One guy came up and asked me to dance; I politely thanked him, and said no; he acted irritated. Another guy asked for a dance; I told him the same thing, then added, “Thanks so much, but I’m waiting for some friends.” “Aren’t we all,” I remember him saying flippantly.
Pretty soon, another guy came up and took the stool, not talking to me, but looking over and then laughing. I just sipped my water. Out of the corner of my eye, I could tell he was staring at me. I ignored him. He started laughing again.
Finally, I asked, “What are you laughing at?”
“You’re a Christian, aren’t you?” he asked, matter-of-fact like.
“Why do you say that?”
“You are, aren’t you?” he insisted.
“Because I ordered water?”
“I could just be into health stuff; just because I drink water doesn’t mean…” (I remember this conversation like it happened yesterday. This was the gist of it. It was one of those times I’ll never forget…)
“I saw you when you came in here,” he said. “I watched you walk all the way over to this side. There was something different about you, and I knew… You’re a Christian.”
“Yes, okay. I am — now why are you laughing?”
Before he answered, he doubled over and laughed again. “Because,” he explained, “I’ve been running away from Him. I gave my life to Him a couple years ago. But everything started going wrong. And my girlfriend left me last year. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to get away from Him, but I can’t. And then you walked in. And I knew… It was like… Well, let’s just say, if Jesus would follow me into a bar, I guess I’ll give Him another chance… I’m gonna go back to church tomorrow and see what happens…”
We talked just a bit more, and right as he was leaving, my two friends walked up. Perfect timing. God is so cool…
Time has gone by since then, but I’m sure God is still walking into bars, walking on the edge of town, walking wherever His people are lost and wandering and hurting, wherever His people are wondering why life has been so difficult in so many ways … wondering why He didn’t step in and save the day … wondering about the “what ifs” … And still, He walks into wherever His people are … forever the One who pursues … who asks us to trust Him again, one more time … the One who asks us to keep our eyes on the other side, that we’ll get there if we don’t give up … that He’ll lead us through and not leave us alone … that His life is ours for the taking, that it’s worth living … that, even though sometimes we can’t make sense of anything, He knows exactly what’s going on … through the good times and the bad …
I find it so amazing that He pursues each of one of us, no matter what, all the time … whether we realize it or not. That He’s persistent, hoping we catch a glimpse of Him and recognize Him… I’m glad He still pursues me. This God of Love, this sweet Jesus… He’s that forever kind of Love, with no condemnation. And all those things I wish I could go back and redo? He says He doesn’t remember them anymore. The past is gone. All things are made new… His words, not mine. But I take them in, like cool, refreshing water…
And now it’s my turn: “If Jesus would follow me into a bar…” I’d asked Him to dance…