He sat as patiently as he knew how, while all the ladies standing around him watched with anxious, wringing hands, waiting. They were filled with a mixture of adoration and hesitation over this kid. He was an enigma, to be sure. And he’d had a rough day already. They were really anxious to see how he would respond when she walked in the room. And then it happened. She stepped over the threshold and the biggest smile stretched across his face. He let out the loudest piercing whoop and began to shake with glee. One teacher helped him to his feet and tried in vain to calm him. He smiled from ear to ear, whooped and hollered while she held on to him trying to reason him into some sort of acceptable behavior. Unable to contain himself any longer and frustrated with the woman standing between him embracing his mother, he bit her. He hollered again, jumping for joy, reaching out his little arm in his momma’s direction, and attempting to escape the grasp of this woman who’d now become a captor. He just wanted his mother! Finally, he was led to her, and she scooped him off the edge of the stage and hugged him. I watched, mesmerized by his abounding joy. He smiled and turned his momma’s face to him, cupping her cheek in his hand and beaming at her. She’d turn away to talk to the teacher and he’d cup her face and pull her eyes back to him and emit a burst of jubilant squeals. He was literally unable to contain himself. He was so happy! Sadly, his mother was unable to appreciate his joy; every teacher in the gym was looking at her in pity and consternation. Her son was unable to act in an “acceptable” manner when she came in the gym to pick him up. I stood in the midst of it all and thought, “that’s what it looks like to be overwhelmed.”
I’ve been singing this song I heard on the radio all week, “God, I run into your arms. Unashamed because of mercy. I’m overwhelmed! I’m overwhelmed by you!” But I watched this little kindergartner respond to his mother this afternoon in such an overwhelming, affectionate way and I wondered to myself, “Have I ever really been overwhelmed by God? Have I ever been so equally overwhelmed by my Daddy?” I can say with surety that I have responded to God in this way in private worship at home. He indeed overwhelms me. But I also know the indignation of others in cooperate worship keeps me from responding to my Father with the love and adoration I feel bubbling up inside. I’ve had moments in worship where I felt like I just wanted to dance, but I’ve restrained myself because I was bound by this idea of “acceptable” behavior. The irony of it is that the scriptures that recount David’s dance in 2 Samuel 6 are among my absolute favorites because of how he responds to his wife’s reproach. He says, “It was before the Lord.” He was effectively saying “It’s not about you, it’s about God.” I long for this freedom, this abandon to my overwhelmed heart towards God. Could this be another way the Lord wants us to become child-like? That with no thought to our surroundings, we abandon ourselves in worshipping Him in whatever way the Spirit inspires? That we forget the world around us and cup His face, gazing into His eyes with pure devotion, grinning from ear to ear because finally, we are in His arms again?
Lord, I want to respond to you like this. I want to be free to express my heart of joy and love toward you without worrying about the stares and disapproval of those around me. I want to be so overwhelmed by you that I am willing to fight off everything that holds me back from embracing you. Fill me with a longing for you that makes everything else trivial. I want to run to you, unashamed and unabashed! I want to hold your face and enjoy your gaze, unaware of the world around me. I love you. Overwhelm me.