Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
Back in 2006, John Mayer released a song titled “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” and every time I prayed about the blog for this week, this song that I hadn’t listened to in over ten years kept coming to my heart. It isn't a Christian song or anything of the sort and when I think of it I can't find any deep theological truth hidden inside the lyrics, but there it stays in the back of my mind anyway.
There is a temptation to write about the obvious (Shadrack Meshack and Abednego) and I don't know…maybe that's a part of it. That is the goal is it not, to possess that kind of peace, even when the world is ending, even when everything is falling apart?
As I started writing this I had little idea about what it was supposed to look like. Then God reminded me of a church service five years ago. I was in church alone, it was the first time that I dared to venture there without my husband (which is a whole other story but I was still in the throes of codependency). I knew that I needed to be there. I knew that there was life inside that place that I needed desperately. So when he refused to get out of bed, I got dressed and I went anyway.
I quickly found my way to a seat and felt so self-conscious. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where to look. I didn't know what to do with my hands. I felt so out of place, so foreign without him sitting beside me and I was so sure that everyone could see how awkward I was on the inside–how much I felt like a misfit.
Then it was time to worship.
I cannot remember for the life of me what worship song we sang. I guess it wasn't the song that mattered as much as the posture of my heart. I closed my eyes and I started to sing and I felt like I was transported from that place, from the chaos of my thoughts and the heaviness of my situation, and I was with Jesus.
That morning I was no longer standing alone in a pew feeling like an outsider. With my eyes closed and my heart open, I could see a different place, a place of peace and warmth. It was a place where I was accepted, loved, and known. As I worshiped I could see a field of wildflowers and tall grass where the light was warm and inviting. It was breathtakingly peaceful but the serenity was secondary to the fact that Jesus was there and we were slow dancing in the middle of the field. I never wanted it to end and I would have given anything for one more song, but as the worship set ended and the service continued I felt revitalized.
Something had changed in that field. The dance with my Savior strengthened my spirit and I didn’t feel like an outsider anymore. Never again did I question whether I should go to church if my husband wasn't going. While I was always disappointed when he wouldn't come, it was no longer an option to just stay home with him. I knew that I wasn't going alone. The Jesus of that experience was the same Jesus that was with me wherever I went, whether I was aware of His presence or not.
I learned another valuable lesson that day, a lesson that I was going to need to hold on to tightly for the seasons that were to come. Worship was a place of safety, a place of revitalization, a place where I could go and be alone with my King. Regardless of what was going on in my life on the outside, I had found a place where all of those things were stripped away and I could just be. Worship became a weapon as I learned to slow dance in my burning rooms.
Now I know that some can bristle at the mention of the word experience or vision. I used to be the person that would argue against God moving in such ways. I’m not writing about this experience to prove its validity, the proof is in the fruit. I am writing about it because we are in the midst of a world that is burning down all around us but, beloved, our God hasn’t changed!
David and the rest of the psalmists knew how to worship this way too. This isn’t some new revelation, it’s all through the Psalms. They were written by people who ran to their God when things were falling apart. In this day and age, we need to learn how to praise the way they did in a world that is burning down around us.
This is traditionally the time in the blog where I choose some scripture that ties all of it together, but it is very difficult to look at the Psalms, at the psalmists’ vulnerable and bared hearts, and choose just one. Honestly, I don’t know if you could read more than five of them without coming across some desperate heart cry to God. But for today I will choose this:
“God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its water roars and foams and the mountains quake with its turmoil. ” - Psalm 46:1-3 CSB
In other words, let the house burn down around us; we will not fear! That is the God that we serve! That is the God that we worship and sing our praises to! That is the God that meets us amid our messes, our battles, our distress. That is a promise to cling tight to and hold on to when all else is falling apart. This is the promise of the burning room.
This brings me back to Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego. Notice that when they were cast into the fire they weren’t cowering in fear on the floor of the furnace waiting for the flame to start searing their flesh. They were walking around in the midst of it! That takes faith!
Beloved, this is the point. This is the reason that my heart has been bursting with these six words this whole week. You can slow dance in the middle of your disaster. Jesus is standing with you, right beside you whether you feel Him there or not and He is just waiting for you to lock eyes with Him and allow Him to lead. Things may still fall apart, damage may still come but there is peace in your battle, there is hope waiting to hold you through your disaster, and there is love extending His hand inviting you to find your refuge in Him.
I know the holidays can be rough, especially after a year when so much has been taken from us–when we are facing so much uncertainty. There is peace. The very thing that the angels heralded to the shepherds two thousand years ago is still true for us today. Jesus is our peace in the middle of the chaos. Make time this week to find Him, to seek His face, to sing to Him and not just about Him, and take your refuge there. Take some time to slow dance with our King in this burning world and see yourself be unaffected by the flames.
Written by Amanda Strauser