The Day my Dad Danced


I love to hear the stories of my families faith. Some of it I grew up with, but was unsaved and ignorant to its meaning in my life, and much of it took place before there was me, or I was too young to understand at all. And such was the story of my Dad, Gene Paul Hardway, as told to me by my cousin Jerry Hughes. Jerry, fortunately for me, not only has great faith, but he has a great memory of spiritual matters with family. I could listen to o him for hours because now, it has meaning. Great meaning.

The story was told (as well as I recall) that at an old time revival in the hills of Braxton County, West Virginia my Dad stood to testify and the Holy Spirit took charge. His testimony went from testifying to preaching, and as he preached on the old wooden platform, he danced. My Dad’s dancing was a cross between a clogging style and a soft shoe. Not showy, just softly. I witnessed him do that many, many times as a child and as an adult. He loved to dance. But this night he danced in the Spirit. Jerry said that Dad apologized to the congregation for the dancing, to which they responded for it to continue as long as he liked because they too knew that the Spirit had a hold of my dad.

It was such a sweet story.You’d have understand my Dad’s demeanor to appreciate the story. He was the most kind hearted, gentle man I ever knew. He never cared if he had the latest and the greatest. He knew and lived apostle Paul’s verse in Philippians 4:11 KJV, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” A matter I’ve struggled with.

So on this Father’s Day weekend, in honor of my earthly Father who is now with my Heavenly Father I share this story and these thoughts on Psalm 149.

Don’t be Shocked 

PSALM 149 [1] Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. [2] Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. 

My heritage (and yours) goes back much farther than that time in the hills of West Virginia when my Dad danced. I have to wonder if Adam didn’t dance in the garden. It doesn’t say he did, but I’d imagine it to be the case. What was the music? Maybe the song birds. Only God knows. But since then, dancing has got a bad rap. Literally. I really don’t understand why unless Matthew 11: 15-19 is an indication.

[15] He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. [16] But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, [17] And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. [18] For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. [19] The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

Religion! Always a sour note in life’s song. Far be it from any of the religious tribe to dance. They are far too “dignified” (aka dead) for that. Regardless of what those in the Spirit do, the dead will make light or evil of it. They did in Jesus’ day, and they do in ours. Judgement abounds in the church setting.

Do I think we should dance in the church. No. It’s not that I would mind if someone did (so long it was of the Spirit’s leading) But the problem is there are always those who find the need for showmanship. And while my Dad was of a meek and gentle spirit, not everyone is. But from Christ’s own words he acknowledged the deadening of the religious and it was not good.

Dancing is only mentioned 37 times in scripture both old and new. So from that I think we can surmise  that it was not be be a major part of worship. But we also should not be shocked if it happens!

Don’t be Stupid

PSALM 149 [3] Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. [4] For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. [5] Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.

The song of salvation! Of what joy those words bring to my heart. I understand my Dad’s dance. I understand it so well I got me some clogging shoes a few months ago. I hope to learn how to clog just for the fun of it. (Not in worship… although I might praise Him while I dance,) especially if I don’t collapse from a heart attack!  But what struck me as pertinent to our blog today from this verse is the fact that David said God would beautify the meek.  What my Dad did in that little country church was a beautiful thing. He was overcome by the Spirit with gladness in his heart for the salvation Christ had afforded him. Like me, my Dad was in his 30’s when he accepted Christ as his Savior. There was a lot of water (and sin) under our bridges. We knew what God had saved us from and we are grateful! I believe it was because of Dad’s “meekness” that God was glorified in that moment. He wasn’t behaving out of control (stupidly). He was in the perfect control of the Spirit of God.

Don’t be Silenced

PSALM 149 [6] Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; [7] To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; [8] To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; [9] To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord.

It’s an honor to be a mouthpiece of the Lord. I was born for that! My Dad used to call me Charlie because of a character played by Bernadette Peters, who was a loud mouthed woman on a sitcom back in the day. For some reason, I reminded Dad of her. Go figure!  But Dad may have seen in me (at least I hope) the potential that Christ would get a hold of this mouth and use it for His glory.

On this Father’s Day weekend, I’m so proud to be the daughter of the meek Gene Paul Hardway. But, I’m even prouder to be the child of the King along with my earthly Father. I hope you enjoyed this memory as much as I did, and I pray you have a blessed Father’s Day!

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