By Brad Lindemann
This is #11 in a 12 part weekly series of excerpts from my book, In Business for Life. I wrote the book to pass along some lessons learned at the crossroads of business and life. My hope being that some could learn from my mistakes and avoid a few head-on collisions. Failing that, my hope is that readers walk away from future collisions with fewer injuries and a fresh perspective on life. Because if you get nothing else out of my book, you truly must get this -
- Don’t let anything keep you from dancing.
Due to an unseasonably cold August, Elaine began lamenting the coming of winter before summer had officially departed. Knowing neither of us could take another winter like the last one, I suggested we conduct a “working snowbird experiment.” After all, when we owned the “condo from hell,” those Canadian snowbirds used to migrate to the Florida panhandle to steal winter accommodations from us at bargain basement prices. Turnabout’s fair play.
So, I told Elaine if she could find something acceptable to her at the same price we use to rent our condo for, we’d head south for the winter. As you might imagine, it didn’t take her long.
Though it was more challenging than first thought, because most owners had yet to adjust to the dog world that we lived in. Most didn’t allow pets. Imagine that.
As fate would have it, we found a charming carriage house (a.k.a. efficiency apartment above the garage) with 485 square feet of open-living space, about the size of our master bedroom at home. There was no bedroom per se, but at least there was a door on the bathroom. I grilled Elaine pretty hard over just how accommodating the space would be. She assured me that we’d adjust…just like we had to the dog world. Sure we would.
After two nights of “cozy comfort,” we were still adjusting. The barely functional WIFI connection wasn’t helping matters. The connection went down every 20 to 30 minutes. While troubleshooting the problem with the homeowner, he casually said, “Why don’t you guys just move into the main house for the rest of the month until the February renters show up? All I would ask is that you pay half of the additional cleaning fee…$110. Would that be okay?”
I was stunned at his incredibly gracious offer. Before he made it, I wasn’t sure we were going to last a week in our cozy little apartment, never mind the two months we’d signed up for. I’m pretty sure Elaine was packing before I hung up the phone.
We soon found ourselves in a gorgeous three-bedroom, three-bathroom beach house with a stunning second floor balcony upon which we enjoyed full sunlight from sun up to sunset. Most importantly, our two dogs, Sky and Bentley, had their own bedroom. Come what may in February, we were living large in January, thanks to technical difficulties over the garage. Adjustment complete.
For the better part of the last decade, my business and my wife’s health have been at the top of my prayer list. I’ve prayed more about these two things than perhaps all others combined. That’s why when we prepared to head south for Rosemary Beach on New Year’s Day, I packed hopes of a breakthrough on both the business and health fronts right next to my Bible. Persistent prayer is a much-discussed topic within Christian circles. Entire books have been written on how and how often to pray. I’m no expert, just another desperate relief seeker who cannot bear the weight of these burdens alone. And so…I pray:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Towards the end of our first week, I met an intriguing woman during a morning walk on the beach. Given the early hour and the blustery conditions, she was the only person I saw during my walk. Wearing brightly printed flannel pajama pants and donning one of those knitted hats with ear flaps and cable yarn ties hanging loosely, she had a childlike whimsical appearance. She was collecting sea shells in a plastic sand bucket. As I approached her, she crossed my path gently holding a star fish and lovingly placed it back into the life-giving sea. “Made a difference to that one,” I said, without stopping to further engage her. After the turnaround, our paths crossed again.
I had a mysterious sense that I was supposed to engage this perfect stranger in conversation. So, I removed my ear buds, but before I had a chance to say “hello” she asked, “What are you listening to?”
“Praise and worship music by a band called Jesus Culture. More than a band really. They’re a movement, particularly among young people.”
“Interesting,” she said, “I’ve never heard of them. Where are you from?” she asked. And then, “What brings you here?”
When I told her that we were primarily here in an effort to break my wife’s chronic pain cycle, she got a very intense, quizzical look on her face.
“Do you woo her?” she asked. Not sure I heard her correctly, I asked her to repeat the question. “Do you woo her?” she repeated. “Love on her. Do you love on her real good? She needs that. You should kiss her on the forehead like a papa. She has deep hurts causing her pain. I can feel it. It makes me cry just to think about it. She really needs you to love on her.”
You could have knocked me over with a feather. Rarely at a loss for words, I was speechless after my encounter with Mary. I thanked my beach angel for her kind words and gave her a hug before moving on. The entire exchange only lasted a few minutes, but the impact of her message should last a lifetime.
That evening, I kissed Elaine on the forehead like a papa. I did my best to love on her real good, but I knew all too well that I would soon fall short of the bar Mary had set for me. That’s why I decided to tell Elaine about how her Heavenly Papa had sent her a clear message through a most unusual messenger.
The following evening, I told Elaine about Mary. I wanted her to know that God felt her pain, heard our prayers and was with us even when it hurt the worst. She seemed deeply moved by my Mary story.
Towards the end, she began fumbling with her phone, looking for something. I wasn’t sure what. Had the stage been set differently, I probably would have really blown it at that point. Saying something about how annoying it was trying to talk to her while she’s preoccupied with her phone. Sure glad I kept that powder dry…for once.
She was soon showing me a music video of a song by Sarah McLachlan entitled, Mary. Here is an especially moving excerpt:
Down to the water's edge
And there she hangs her head
To find herself faded
A shadow of what she once was…
Oh and I would be the last to know
I would be the last to let it show
I would be the last to go
“Mary” by Sarah McLachlan
I don’t pretend to know what message these lyrics might have for my lovely bride and me. Perhaps none at all. What I do know, however, is that on January 7, 2015 God answered one of my top two prayers in an extraordinary way. He didn’t give Elaine the healthy 30-year-old spine I’d been praying for. Nor did He take away the chronic migraines. He simply let her know that He felt her pain, while letting me know what I should be doing about it…love on her really good. Just like He loves on us.
Four days later, I was taking the same beach walk. Again, it was early morning…Sunday morning. As usual, I was listening to worship music on my iPhone. Since I was the only one in sight, I did some rather lame worship dancing near the water’s edge at the turnaround point. On the walk back, at about the same spot I met Mary the beach angel, the Spirit clearly nudged me. No voice, but the message was clear—check out Craig’s latest blog on the Ransomed Heart web site. Mind you, I've only read Craig's blog a couple of times and not at all within the last year or so. I knew nothing of his latest post, but clearly “heard” God tell me to read it...the latest one. Now!
So, I sat down in the sand to see what God was up to. The post dated September 9, 2014 was simply entitled, Dancing. The picture was that of a little girl in a red tutu dancing, you guessed it…on the beach. Just as I had been doing minutes earlier. Though you could hardly call what I had been doing dancing when compared to this little ballerina leaping for joy atop the wet sand. Then, my eye was drawn to the last line which read, “Don’t let anything keep you from dancing.” Reading that post literally took my breath away. Through it, God had spoken clearly, tenderly, yet oh so powerfully to me...me! But, He wasn't finished speaking....
As I tearfully continued my homeward trek, a few minutes later the Spirit nudged me again. This time a bit more forcefully. His message was brief and business-like. The God of the Universe clearly “said” (again, no audible voice, but a clear message) to me, “I might have more interest in blessing your business plans if you had more interest in executing mine.”
I knew exactly what He meant. Plan A…the one in which the God of the Universe entrusts the truth of the Gospel to knuckleheads like me. It’s a simple plan really. Just tell everyone you meet about Jesus. And, it really helps if you actually know Him, as opposed to just knowing about Him.
With that, I cried “uncle” to my Heavenly Papa and my beach dancing lesson ended. I felt so loved in that moment, it was as if God had bent down from Heaven and kissed me on the forehead like a papa would. Though Elaine’s health and my business challenges remain, my perspective on both has radically changed. By telling me what I needed to do about each, God had effectively told me what I desperately needed to hear—“I’ve got this. Just love your wife and others as I do. I’ll take care of the rest. You wait…you watch…you’ll see.” And I believe I will.
You might be struggling, as I did, to connect the dots between my dancing lesson and the business admonition. From my experience, God never wastes a moment and He’s able to fulfill multiple purposes within a single one. While lame worship dancing is better than none, it’s even better to praise our great God by dancing before Him like He’s the only one watching.
This was an important message unto itself, but it also set the stage for the one to follow. By confirming the first message through Craig’s blog post in such dramatic fashion, God paved the way for the second message about my business to be received. Absent the first message, I may have questioned where the second one came from. Sure sounded good, but maybe I just made that one up? As it was, I had no doubt about the source of both messages.
Since the previously mentioned spiritual retreat in 2012 with Toth Ministries in Colorado, I’ve been known to cut a spiritual rug or two whilst worshipping God through music. I would commend the practice to anyone who considers himself a Christ follower and desires to follow Him more closely. To encourage you, I thought you might enjoy reading Craig’s entire (brief) post on the subject:
I came across a young college student friend’s Facebook post:
Jon wishes that when he ran into a room and started dancing that other people would get up and dance, and not just sit and stare. Ya!
Someone quickly commented: Maybe he’s running into the wrong rooms.
I paused, eased back into my chair, captured and wondering, “Am I dancing?” With a little reflection, I thought, “Sometimes, for some reasons, in some circles… yes and no.”
Soaking in the question...I’d love to run into rooms dancing and have others get up and join me… and not just sit and stare.
What rooms am I running into? Lord, am I running into the wrong rooms? (Church, small group, circle of friends, etc.)
After steeping a bit on my life and its effect upon others, I hear God my Father clear his throat and in tones of strength, warm invitation, and urgency, perhaps insistence, whisper to my heart, “Don’t let anything keep you from dancing!”
Dancing, by Craig McConnell, September 9, 2014. http://www.ransomedheart.com/blogs/craig/dancing
With that...another part of my book is now yours. If you've enjoyed this excerpt, I hope you'll consider sharing it with others and perhaps buying the book.