Ken Gire. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers Inc., 2003, 232 pp.
by Mr Song Cheng Hock.
book is discomfiting to read. The principal theme of dancing with the Lord
is contentious for men, who
are accustomed to visualize
their relationship with Christ using masculine images as that of a
soldier, athlete, farmer or builder (p. 12) but, not as a dance partner!
One may argue, "It is just a metaphor!" A metaphor's literary
boundary is porous enough to allow and accommodate paradoxical ideas. A
metaphor, however, can be dangerous and adeptly persuasive. Eugene
Peterson warns that the metaphor's intended image can "keep us from
being spectators of language by forcing us to be participants in it"
(The Unnecessary Pastor, pp. 70-71).
Gire is a competent wordsmith. His main aim in using the dance metaphor is
to draw a response from his readers. With great dexterity, he weaves the
metaphor in between the pages in each chapter to describe a particular
aspect of the dance, for example, the prelude to the dance, the intimacy
of the dance, the joy of the dance and so forth.
The reader who cursorily thumbs through the pages to get a gist of
the book would probably find the experience contrived and fruitless. But,
as the reader delves deeper into the book, he will discover that those
staccato ascriptions are essential parts of a larger symphonic movement,
culminating in an invitation to dance.
reader is urged to respond to that invitation. Skill is not the criterion.
The dance is not about technique. It is about intimacy with the lead
Dancer. It is The Divine Embrace. The lead Dancer will set the pace and
tempo. All that is needed is our willingness to take that first step. The
waltz will naturally and spontaneously follow. But, as dance partners, we
must adhere to this sequence: "The Christian life is about us
following Christ's lead, not about him following us. He does not ask us to
write the notes to the music or choreograph the steps of the dance. He
asks us merely to take his hand and follow him" (p. 89).
catalytic inspiration for the book comes from an unexpected source -
Johann Straiuss II's "Emperor's Waltz." On hearing the music for
the first time, he was inexplicably moved,
thought of my response to it, and it seemed similar to how the disciples
must have reacted when they first realised who Jesus was. . . . Some
miraculous moment opens our eyes, the way it did with the disciples, and
we ask ourselves, as they asked themselves, 'Who is this? Even the wind
and the waves obey him!'(p. 5).
was his spiritual awakening. The lead Dancer is the Emperor himself, our
Lord! He leads, we follow. We
falter, he holds, "And that is precisely how we learn - as we go.
We learn to dance by dancing" (p. 103).
a book on spirituality can be a satisfying as well as an onerous task.
Satisfying because it can be inspirational and yet onerous because it is
subjective. How one views the book is contingent upon one's theological
framework and even temperament. For example, a conservative would probably
view Gire's work as overly sentimental since it is couched in dramatic and
emotive language. On the other hand, a person with a more melancholic
disposition may enjoy the melodic mood of the book.
must prevail. However, the line between objectivity and cynicism or even
evangelical snobbery can be disturbingly thin. Perhaps, Gire's own
seminary experience is a good illustration. In his first year, a
respectable professor gave him an improbable advice, "Stay away from
the third- and fourth-year students." Why? "Because
we were told, they were critical and bitter, and being around them would
destroy our passion." His
sobering point is that a person could be so self-absorbed in his own
intellectual (unintelligible?) world that any form of subjective devotion
would be rejected as spurious.
author may be anticipating negative responses from readers. His
anticipation may have led him to pray, "Dear Jesus, I ask one thing
for the readers of this book, that they love you more when they finally
put it down than they did when they first picked it up" (vii).
prayer reveals two things about the author.
He has deep desire for his readers to know the Lord.
Secondly, the book has the substance and spirit to arouse their
passion for the Lord. All he asks for is the reader's willingness to take
the first step.
he achieve his goal? The invitation to dance may be discomfiting
but the reader cannot choose to vacillate between options. The Divine
Embrace is compelling enough to extract a response from even the most
indecisive reader. That is the nature of the dance metaphor.
following is a summary of the chapel message on November 2, 2005. The
Speaker, Ms Kwan Poh San, is with Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Cor. 12:5,9: "I will not
boast about myself except about my weaknesses...boast all the more gladly
about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me."
we serve the Lord on the mission field, we become increasingly aware of
our own weaknesses. From our constant struggle with our weaknesses, we can
see through the years how the Lord would use our weaknesses to show forth
his love and grace, and his power. And the main area of our life where our
weaknesses show up is in relationships with colleagues and with the people
we are sent to minister to. Many workers on the field leave their place of
work mainly from the inability to handle relationships with people. I have
found that to be true, as my own experiences show that that is one of the
hardest part of life. However, God also gives grace and help to those who
acknowledge those weaknesses, and they are willing to work with his help
to overcome them.
Lord also teaches us and helps us to understand cultures and peoples to
work with them to encourage them, and sometimes our small efforts are
appreciated and it does encourage us when it is related how we have helped
someone along the way to improvements in their relating to others, and to
their own work.
our times of tiredness and exhaustion from overwork and stress, he opens
new avenues for us to express ourselves to relieve that tension within us.
In my case the Holy Spirit gave me words for verses and poems. That has
opened up a creative avenue for me to express myself, and to praise the
Lord in the process.
Lord is ever willing to bend down to those who trust fully in Him, and he
will work through our weaknesses.
Chapel Speaker on 16 November will be Dr Quek Swee Hwa.
Lee Kok Wah 14/11
Chrisa Goh 14/11
Tan Poh Tee 16/11
Richard Yew 16/11
Cherine Tan 17/11
Peter Yeo 17/11
Roland Yip 20/11