“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. ” John 20:24
“Lorna, you just need to get out of your head!” That’s what my dance teacher told me after I voiced frustration over being so slow to catch-on to new choreography. I asked, “Why do I keep hearing that? I’ve even been told that at dance conferences from facilitators who don’t even know me!” She smiled knowingly and gave me homework, which ultimately became HEART-work. “You don’t have the faith that you can dance the way we can see you dance.” Laying her hand gently on the center of my chest, she continued, “You have it in you-the ability to learn and move how God wants you to move, but sometimes you doubt and get frustrated when you make mistakes. But we ALL make mistakes as we learn these dances, that’s how we learn! You must be ok with seeing yourself make mistakes. I want you to study the encounter between Thomas and Jesus in the 20th chapter of John. Let’s see if that helps you.” I eagerly dug into this familiar passage that very night and over the course of a week, I not only found myself relating to Thomas on a new level, but God showed me how I should be responding to His instruction in the process and I learned just how critical this exchange between Jesus and Thomas was to the whole world.
I mentioned in a previous posting that our dance academy is a mix of experienced and inexperienced dancers. (Shout out to Missy and Seeds Of Praise Dance Academy, Charlotte, NC!) Some know the “language” better than we less experienced students and can move quickly from learning choreography to MINISTERING in movement. Traditionally, Thomas has been looked down on as a “doubter”. But verse 24 offers at least some reasoning for his point of view: He was not there when Jesus first appeared to the other disciples. Would they all have instantly believed by word of mouth alone that Jesus had risen from the dead? We may never know, but what we do know is that Jesus had mercy on him and did indulge his questioning, actually telling Thomas to touch the injuries to His crucified body (verse 27) as proof it was his Teacher. Some see the comments from Jesus as Thomas received the confirmation he needed as an admonishment. I see it simply as God saying to us that a “seeing is believing” mindset is a humanistic way of functioning (which is “ok” for some). But taking Him at His Word enough to believe without tangible proof is the purest definition of FAITH (which is the Believer’s very foundation)! That kind of faith is what God expects from us in order to tap in to His best for us. Jesus simply “breathed” on the group who saw Him first, and they received the Holy Spirit with power to accomplish His works (verses 22-23).
In dance ministry, my “seeing” is being a witness to the process of the Holy Spirit working first in ME before I can then become His ambassador within this art form. It is not pretty, watching the body come under submission of God’s shaping, but then it cannot be. If He is the Potter and we are the clay, we are shapeless forms with a purpose yet to be revealed after much molding, shaping and even (gulp) FIRING into the vessels God can use in this world. And it is so worth it.
The Holy Spirit was also with the Apostle Thomas, who went from frowned-upon doubter to the one who traveled the farthest East with the Great Commission. He carried the Gospel of Jesus Christ to India, saving hundreds before being assassinated for it. Descendants of that nation’s first Christians are still there, serving God to this day.
Homework assignment completed. Thank you, Missy!
And to God be the glory!