The song “Dance in the Rain”, from the CHICkBand CD was written by Anne Lindsay and inspired by the story that follows. Used with permission by Canyon Ridge Christian Church from "God First: 40 Days to a Surrendered Life," a 40-day devotional book written by the people of Canyon Ridge Christian Church.

Jim and Olivia Gray in the studio contributing
their voices to the song "Dance in the Rain"

Day Sixteen: The Worst Day of My Life
By Jim Gray

On a sunny winter afternoon, I was sitting in the boardroom of a large regional airline in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In this meeting were the chairman of the board of the airline and the president of a swiftly growing vacation company. The executives from these two companies were sitting down to talk about doing business together. I was the one who brought these two men together. This meeting was the first move in my master plan to start my own marketing consulting agency.

We were all chatting casually when the airline chairman’s assistant called him out to take a quick phone call. I sat back in my chair and the president of the vacation company gave me a wink. I smiled back and looked out the window. I could see the planes taking off and landing. There were many thoughts running through my mind at that moment. Foremost was my absolute belief that I was going to make a lot of money from this deal. I thought of my wife back in Las Vegas and I imagined the smile she’d have on her face when I told her how well everything went. I began to congratulate myself. I would make my first million from the deal that was about to be struck in this room. And my eyes drifted again to the huge picture window. Another big plane floated off the runway.

And then my cell phone buzzed. Out of habit, I checked the caller ID and I could see it was my office. The chairman wasn’t back yet, so I decided to take the call. I got up from my chair, flipped my phone open and said, “Yeah?” It was my receptionist. Her voice was shaking.

“Jim, the highway patrol just called and they need you to call them.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know. They wouldn’t tell me. They gave me a number for you to call. You need to talk to Officer Davidson.”

I fumbled for my pen and scribbled the number on a Post-it. I walked out of the boardroom and into the hallway. I noticed that my palms were beginning to sweat as I punched in the number.

“Hello. My name is Jim Gray. Is Officer Davidson available?”

I was asked to hold. For some reason, I noticed that the hall I was standing in was quite chilly.

“Mr. Gray?”


“This is Officer Davidson.”

“OK. What’s going on?”

“Mr. Gray, your wife and your daughter have been in a serious car accident.” Suddenly, all I could seem to hear was the ringing in my ears.

“Mr. Gray your daughter is fine.”

“Is my wife alive?”

“I’m not a doctor.”

Exactly five hours after those words ripped into my brain I stood over the broken and bloody body of my wife in an emergency room. A surgeon told me that they had done all they could, and now it was in God’s hands.

In all of my 40 years, it was the single worst moment of my life.

What do you do when you are suffering so badly that you are unable to worship? What do you do when everyone around you is singing with hands aloft rapturously experiencing intimacy with God in an act commonly defined as worship and you stand cold as a stone, feeling nothing? What do you do when this cold feeling begins to metastasize into a cancerous wall between you and your God?

These are difficult questions. However, as with all things, we can look to the example set by Jesus for reliable guidance in searching for answers. And I think that we see the answer in a grove of olive trees, in a place called Gethsemane.

As Jesus walked up the Mount of Olives on that night, He knew He was only hours from His crucifixion. He had a deep understanding of the physical and emotional torture He would endure before a single nail was driven into His body. He knew that a moment was looming when He would actually find Himself separated from his Father. He knew He was going to bear the full wrath of almighty God for the sin of mankind.

In his gospel, Mark tells us that the knowledge of these things filled Jesus with horror and deep distress. Luke describes Jesus’ emotional state as an agony of spirit that caused sweat mixed with blood to run down his face.

At this point in the story it is most interesting to note what Jesus does not do. He doesn’t put on a brave face. He doesn’t suggest that John go get his guitar and they sing a few praise songs. He doesn’t smile and “claim the victory.” He doesn’t stand in the midst of His friends and with hands raised, thanking God for all the good times.

You might say that worship was conspicuously absent in Jesus’ behavior.

You might go so far as to say that Jesus does something decidedly un-worshipful. He walks a short distance and throws Himself on the ground. Face down in the dirt, Jesus composes a prayer. But again, we must look at what is absent. Does Jesus begin with “hallowed be Thy name?” Does He recount all of His many blessings? Does He list the many wonderful attributes of His Father?

He doesn’t. His croaking prayer begins with, “Father, please…” Jesus does what all suffering Christians do. He goes to His Daddy and makes a request. Facedown. In the dirt.

So where’s the worship?

Jesus was obedient. Obedience is worship. Even though Jesus was suffering terribly in the Garden of Gethsemane, He didn’t let His suffering derail Him from what He knew He had to do. He followed through on what he knew God required of him.

Paul, in Romans 12:1, instructs us this way: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

In essence Paul tells us: Be like Christ. Do what is required. Live according to the scriptures. Why? Because that is worship. And worship is the constant, natural state of the Christian.

Are there acts of obedience that you are ignoring because you are paralyzed by suffering? I urge you to make a list of these things that you know you need to be doing. Put them in order from easiest to most difficult. Once you have completed your list, resolve that you are going to begin to do these things, starting with the easiest first. And then begin. And do not give up. Start over one million times, if you have to. As you do these things, remember that you are engaged in a powerful act of worship.

Do you not feel very “worshipful?” Is the “worship” portion of Sunday service a little dry for you? Before you let this add to your suffering, check yourself. Are you doing what’s required of you, according to the Scriptures? If you are, then you are fully engaged in a proper act of spiritual worship as Paul describes it in Romans 12:1. Just because your feelings may not agree, it doesn’t mean it’s not true.

My daughter and I were playing on the swings in our back yard recently. Storm clouds had been gathering for most of the afternoon and I began to see the first drops of rain bounce off the grass. I said, “Liv, we gotta go inside now. It’s starting to rain.” And without pause or hesitation, Olivia said right back to me, “No daddy, let’s dance in the rain.” Immediately she ran out into the middle of the yard and with an upturned face, closed eyes and out-stretched arms, she began to turn herself in circles.

“C’mon, Dad! It’s fun!”

Feeling slightly ridiculous, I stood next to her and spread my arms with my face to the sky, turning in circles.

“See I told you! It’s fun!” my daughter giggled.

In my own life I have found that suffering and worship are a bit like this picture. Inevitably, life will soak you with cares and pain. But a dance is still possible. It all starts with a simple act of obedience.

About the Author
Jim Gray is husband to Becky Gray (who slowly continues to improve) and father to Olivia Gray. He is a partner in a local marketing firm. He became a Christian when he was 12.

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Updated 04/9/2005

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