Often when gazing to distant mountains, snippets of Lee Ann Wormack’s popular hit song “I hope you dance” pop into my mind. Of course, the song is typical country music genre and is about chancing love. However, the lyrics speak to a hopeful, enthusiastic approach to life in general! A few of the cherry-picked lyrics are as follows:
“I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance…”/ “Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance…”/ “ I hope you never lose your sense of wonder…”/ “May you never take one single breath for granted”/ “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean”/ “Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance/“And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance, I hope you dance.”
That is good advice: to step out into life with youthful vigor yet with humility, with a sense of wonder and amazement, with an appreciation for our place in the vastness and beauty of creation, and with faith that there is a purpose for our lives. It encourages one “go for it”, to pursue our dreams and goals with courage and confidence, to let challenges energize us, and to not let limitations defeat us.
However, on that journey, it soon becomes evident that happiness is not the same as self-discovery and self-fulfillment or what we might consider success. Somewhere and sometime, we will begin to ask ultimate questions just as the Psalmist did. “Remember how short my life is, how empty and futile this human existence! What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?” (Psalm 89:47-48)
I have recently seen several lists of four or five “must read” books that presumably teach how to improve one’s life. Sadly, none of the lists included sacred Scripture, where God answers the Psalmist’s and our questions! Christ also spoke to the issue of happiness by declaring that spiritual well-being and happiness are possible despite one’s status or circumstance. What he said remains both as counter-intuitive and as counter-cultural as it was then.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Those are heart transforming attitudes and actions that lead to the distant mountains for which we strive, to the places where one can know both purpose and joy. Jesus said that those qualities will not only bring happiness, but they will make one as salt and light in one’s community. (Matthew 5:3-16) His words require thoughtful consideration because they are the music to which the soul dances.
“I hope you dance!”