© JoAnn Reno Wray
By age twenty-five I’d been bound by debilitating depression for years and had tried to commit suicide six times. Often, my husband, Roger, came home from work to find me curled in fetal position in a dark closet, unwilling for anyone to even glance at me. Years of childhood verbal abuse had taken a drastic toll. I felt utterly unloved and unwanted, totally useless to anyone, despite Roger’s reassurances.
Even after taking Jesus as my redeemer, rejection raged at me. Finally, following yet another serious bout of depression, I faced my fears. It was time. I had a choice to make: Rejection, depression, and death or Jesus, joy, and life.
One fall day in 1974, I prayed, “Lord, I want to praise you – not fight you. Help me.” Tears trickled onto the carrots I chopped, but I sang out with quivering voice, “Praise the Lord, oh, Praise the Lord!” Something lifted in my heart and mind. A breeze of hope stirred. I sang again, “Praise you Lord. I praise you Lord.” This time more boldly, my hands raised, eyes closed.
Suddenly, a bright flash pierced my closed eyes. I turned, then gasped. Jesus stood in my kitchen, shining gloriously, smiling, and his arms extended to me. I fell to the floor face-down. His bare feet slapped across the tiles. Through the tent of my fingers, I glimpsed his scarred feet. I could only shake and weep there on the vinyl floor.
Bending down, Jesus softly said, “No more fears, daughter. I love you.” He helped me stand, his strong hands lifting me to face him. A heavenly song filled the air and he danced me around my kitchen. His head was thrown back as he laughed with delight at my astonishment. I looked down to see heavy black chain links that bound me head to foot. The links fell to the floor one by one, dissolving to nothing.
After a time, I stepped back and continued praising him. I glanced at the clock astonished to find that over two hours had passed. It felt like five minutes. I could no longer see him standing there, but for the first time in my life I knew Jesus was truly alive. Better – I knew he loved me – just like I am.
Was it a vision, a dream, or did it actually happen in my kitchen that day? This is what I know with certainty: I’ve been in love with Him ever since and daily we’ve danced joyously for almost 40 years. I plan to keep dancing – right into eternity! In fact, I think I hear the sound of a trumpet warming up right now.
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save , he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17, KJV
Lord, allow me to always hear heaven’s music. Keep me mindful that your arms are encircling me, holding me close to your heart. When life presses in and tries to overwhelm, let me lean my head against your chest, and allow you to lead me in the dance of joy.
Amen and so be it!