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Dori Drabek
Isaiah 40:31

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Dancing With Hope
by Dori Drabek

Isaiah 40:31 says, “…they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

I am an incurable romantic… Yes, it’s true! It all began the day I was born when I fell in love with my childhood hero… Most people called him Wally, but I called him Daddy. I don’t remember a moment in my life when he did not love me and I him. I grew up in a tight-knit neighborhood in the suburbs of Boston, and on our block there were nine little girls all about my age. Summers were long, humid, and trying, so we spent hours in the shade playing with dolls and talking. I would tell them about my dad and how he was the biggest, strongest, smartest dad in the whole world… To me he WAS and they seemed to believe me. He had been a weight lifter, but I didn’t know until I grew up that he was only 5 feet 8 inches tall, and had a mere 8th grade education!

I just knew he was a faithful husband and loving father who left for work the same time every morning and always arrived home in time for dinner with my mom, older brother and me. After dinner, my mom would scoot me off to the living room for my dad to deal with because she’d had her fill of what you might call an active child. If they had discovered Ritalin back then, Mom would have been the first in line if she thought it would cure my over-activity! But Dad was always sitting in his easy chair with open arms. We would talk, tickle, laugh and play, but so often we would just sit in quiet communion, and it is there that a priceless relationship grew between my dad and me.

No matter what a day would bring… be it a heated argument with a little girlfriend on a hot summer’s day, or a note to my mom from my teacher saying “Doreen talks too much in class,” and even after the words of correction, nothing compared to the warmth and security I felt in the arms of my dad. His love was not based on my performance, but on my position… I was His and He was mine! The gift of this position made the investment of our time together priceless!!

One night when I was still quite small, my mom left (for a Tupperware® party or something of the sort), entrusting me to the care of my dad. I fell asleep on the couch in my clothes, and he, being an avid photographer, went downstairs to our basement to work in his dark room. I had a horrifying, terrifying, frightening nightmare!! I still remember it… An elf was doing summersaults in my living room, saying, “Ah, ha, ha, ha… Ah, ha, ha, ha!” Needless to say, I woke up crying when my uncle (who had been downstairs with my dad and probably came up for a cup of coffee and heard me crying) swept me up in his arms and carried me down to my dad’s darkroom… which was built in the darkest, dankest, scariest corner of our entire basement, maybe even the whole world. He tapped on the door and when it was safe to go in (so as not to damage the developing process), he placed me on my dad’s lap. And now, I can’t even begin to describe the security, safety and love I felt. You see, I learned my dad’s heartbeat in the living room, but I felt his heartbeat in the darkroom! …And so it is with us. It is in the living room of every day life – sitting and reading, trusting, praying and growing in relationship with our heavenly father - that He strengthens us.

I was secure in my relationship with my dad because I knew him intimately in a pure, love relationship. When we know Jesus Christ intimately, we can be totally secure in Him in the light, easy times AND in the dark, difficult times.

Four and a half years ago, we had to place my DAD (yes, my childhood hero) in a facility for Alzheimer’s, mostly for his own safety, protection and care. I certainly never expected to see my hero in a place like that. I cried myself to sleep for months. Many, many people asked me, “So how is your mom doing?” But one Sunday at church a dear friend I’d grown very close to through my church community said, “So, how are YOU doing?” She had learned to read me very well, and had experienced a similar thing with her mom. We ended up sitting on a bench, talking, crying and praying together… It was a precious “God Moment” that strengthened and encouraged me to go on.

I was to be the Lay Director for the next Walk To Emmaus weekend, and on Monday, March 10th, the day after this was announced, we were awakened by a phone call at 6:10 a.m. After over five years of constant decline, my hero was slipping off into eternity and before we arrived at his bedside, he was gone. My brother could not arrive for another week, so services were postponed until then. It was a busy week of preparing, plus we had a conference going on at our church where we are staff members. The next week was filled with visiting family, a memorial service and the burial at sea. Family left, Easter came and went, and before I knew it, I was in my office alone for the first time in weeks, trying to catch up and finish planning our soon approaching women’s ministries Spring Luncheon. I had received emails from at least half of my leaders saying they could not make it to our final planning meeting the following Sunday. I would be gone the next weekend, speaking at a women’s retreat and the luncheon was the Saturday after that. There was no other time to hold this meeting. I fell into a heap in front of my computer. Grief finally hit me - in the midst of everyone else’s lives going on as normal, I was falling apart. I emailed one of my team members with a note I was planning to send to the rest of the committee saying we needed to cancel the luncheon. She called me minutes later asking what needed to be done. We reviewed the planning sheet and she immediately called everyone to make sure all the plans were in place for the luncheon, and the luncheon went on as planned! I was broken and weak, but God caught me up in the very wind of my pain, and all I had to do is coast as HE and HIS people pulled it off and today I am pleased to tell you it was the best luncheon we ever had!!

Isaiah 40:31 says, “…they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” This does not mean you have to be strong and push forward on your own. On the contrary, it is truly a gift from God and His people… and we do need both!

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you one thing my dad and I used to LOVE to do in the living room… I’d take off my shoes, hop on his feet, wrap my arms around his waist and he’d wrap his big strong arms round me, I’d bury my chin in his tummy, and we’d dance. And you know what I’d see… As I looked up into his eyes, all I’d see is his eyes filled with love looking back at me.

And so it is with God… When we get to know Him in the living room of everyday life, we learn that “He [does] cover us with his feathers [as he wraps his loving arms around us… sometimes using the arms of a member of the body of Christ] and under his wings [His sheltering love] we can trust [for HE is so worthy] and his truth [which is His Word] will be our shield [that’s our protection] and our buckler [which is our strength]” because when it comes right down to it, life is a JUNGLE and Jesus Christ is our only HOPE, and it is ONLY through HIM and the support of HIS people that we can keep “Dancing with Hope in the Jungle of Life!”

Dance on, dear Sisters-in-Christ!!

Dori


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