I was not made for rhythm. I can’t clap and sing at the same time. I have never played a musical instrument. For a very brief time in college I tried to teach myself guitar, but I quit when I realized that you need to have rhythm in order to strum.
And apparently dancing requires rhythm, too.
I had a small impression that the worship in Uganda could be a bit more lively than what I am used to. One team member who has been to Uganda many times shared a video of the worship in Uganda. So I figured I was pretty much prepared for what we would experience as a team.
And I was wrong.
Because nothing could’ve prepared me for the eagerness in my own heart to join the Ugandan Christians in dancing, shouting, and singing off key for the glory of God! The worship experience in those two weeks will be something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
As I’ve had a few weeks to reflect, I must be honest that at least a portion of the enthusiasm in my heart for their worship style comes down to the novelty of something so different from my normal weekly experience. I like new and different things.
But I also am convinced that something in those gatherings in Uganda spoke to my heart’s longing to be more abandoned in worship. Something in me longs to be less inhibited by my inability, my lack of strength, my lack of “skills”, or even fear for my reputation. I felt a freedom to express worship in ways that freed me from the concern of what others would think.
In one sense you would stand out in Uganda if you DIDN’T dance. So the reverse could be true there and the pressure to be self-controlled in American churches could be traded for the pressure to be more expressive in Africa.
But I am not convinced that this was the motivation. Cultural expectations and permissions are real. But the last thing that caught my attention goes beyond cultural boundaries.
Those I worshiped with in Uganda have very little. They are not in a position to give thanks to God for the “abundance” He has given to them. And that made the fervor of their worship all the more sweet to me. Poverty mixed with gratitude is a medicine to my soul.
I am looking forward to the day when people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation gather around His throne to worship Him. Some will dance, some will chant, some will sing cheesy CCM songs, and some will “rawk out” for Jesus. But I never felt as close to heaven as when I danced in praise in Uganda. And I hope in heaven I won’t stand out too much as the Mzungu hanging out in the African section of worship. But I will certainly stand out if God doesn’t heal my lack of rhythm.
But I will dance.