Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.~Mark 10:14 ESV
I have become a collector of hearts, but I do not collect just any hearts. They are gifts from my daughter, Danielle. Each heart is like a time capsule, capturing a memory from her youth. But what does this have to do with dancing shoes?
One is a heart-shaped rock she found in the garden. She skipped it to me and squealed. We washed it under the hose, and she cradled it. Then she gave me her little treasure and ran off to play, periodically checking to make sure I was cradling the rock-heart to her satisfaction.
Another is made of twisted wire, fashioned as a pendant for me to wear. Yet another is a two-colored foil heart, and still another is made from clay. I look at these hearts often, remembering my daughter will forever be in my heart as I am in hers.
Let’s enter the world of make-believe and simple truths.
Pretend you’re a little girl, age four-and-a-half. Yes, “and-a-half” is important when you’re that age. At this time, you are learning to love Jesus. You love to run, bounce on couches, and play bowling with Daddy where you and your brother get to be the pins and a giant bean bag is the bowling ball. Yes, you’re an active girl. Your hair is golden with hints of red, and your locks are shoulder-length. As you take dancing classes, you learn to pirouette, point your toes, jump, and twirl. The teacher who you’re learning from loves Jesus.
Then it happens.
You are in church with Daddy, Mommy, and your little brother when a holy hush comes upon the Sunday congregation. There’s a stirring as spontaneous worship begins. You listen in.
A gentleman starts singing in the balcony. He is joined by a lady in the choir. Someone in the nave begins to sing. The congregation joins in. Soon, the worship becomes exuberant! You tug at Momma’s hem.
“Mommy, can I dance?”
“Jesus is here. Can I dance?”
With permission granted, you run the aisle of the church, twirling in exuberant worship. Your dance is the perfect picture of what Jesus says about the innocent trust of a child: “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14b ESV).
To your parents’ delight, you worship as only a child can fully do. You are carefree, real, trusting, and innocent. The joy you display comes from a heart of gratitude to Jesus. You make Momma and Daddy proud that day, and we smile big . . . all day.
The next morning, you pointed to the heart-cross pendant your mom has worn all your life and say, “I wanna wear a cross with a heart just like you.”
“Sweetheart,” I say, “when you know what it means to be saved, Mommy promises you, she’ll get you a heart-cross pendant.”
“It’s just that . . . well, sweetie, you’re four.”
“Your birthday is soon. We’ll celebrate it.”
“I wanna wear a heart. With a cross.” You cross your arms and swing a foot.
“When you understand, I’ll . . .”
“But Mommy, I do understand.”
“How about you tell Mommy what you believe about Jesus.”
“Jesus died on the cross, and He’s alive. He’s up there.” You point upwards.
“And He loves me this much!” You spread your hands as wide as you can. “And when I put my dancing shoes on, I can feel Him right heeeeeere.” You point to your heart and twirl.
“I will get you a heart with a cross.” I say, “because I guess you do understand.”
I’d love to say I got that first heart-cross pendant for my daughter, but I did not. You see, Danielle’s dance teacher talked to me that next Sunday sharing how much my four-and-a-half-year-old girl was into worship. Her teacher was impressed not by the perfection of my child’s moves, but by the spirit in which she performed them.
The dance teacher asked permission to give Danielle a gift. I agreed. She handed her a tiny box. Inside, was a pendant—a cross within a sparkly heart. Danielle jumped for joy. But I cried, knowing the Lord Himself had confirmed to me my deepest hope–that she really did know what it meant to be saved.
The Bible says, “For with the heart man believeth” (Romans 10:10a KJV). May I add, sometimes the inner heart puts on dancing shoes. And sometimes, the one who believes is a little girl, age four-and-a-half, who knows without reservation that John 3:16 is real.
Have you thanked God for the gift of salvation?
Heavenly Father, thank You for my salvation, a profound but simple truth even a little child can understand. Help me to share the gospel message without reservation with everyone You place in my sphere of influence. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Genre: Creative Non-fiction
Copyright 2018: Dancing Shoes: Diane Virginia: All Rights Reserved
Published: March 2019: Christian Broadcasting Network: Beth Patch, Senior Producer; February 2019: Faith Beyond Fear: Editor Alynda Long; November 2022: Inspire a Fire: Cindy Sproles, Executive Editor