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Wailing Into Dancing

2007 November 19
by Mike

An odd thing happened to me yesterday just as I got up to preach. I got so tickled I couldn’t speak. Could barely squeak out a few words.

Children of Highland have been telling the stories each week that I’m preaching on in this series called “Storybook Lives.” Some are brief; some verbose. Some serious; some more playful. All have been wonderful.

The six year old who told the story yesterday was energetic, creative, and breathless. And, without meaning to be, she was just really funny.

I’d watched the video a couple times, but for some reason it just sent me over the edge when I watched it in worship. And I couldn’t recover. I desperately looked for someone down front to come up and pray for me since I was afraid that if I prayed I’d be giggling and guffawing all the way through. It was hard to find someone capable of doing so. The laughter bug was infectuous. I glanced down at Bob A., one of my elders. No way. His shoulders were bouncing and tears were rolling down his face. I kept scanning and found Bob S., who came up shaking his head and said to me under his breath, “I’m not sure this is going to go any better.” But it did, as he asked God to pour through me the gift of preaching.

Someone told me this was the second time she’d see me incapable of even speaking. The first time was a few years ago when I took the jogging stroller that I’d pushed Megan in thousands of miles as an illustration. But the moment I touched it, I fell apart. It caught me by surprise. It was years after my daughter’s death and I had known what I was going to say. But when I touched the stroller in the context of worship, I had a meltdown.

There were tears again yesterday. But this time they were tears of laughter.

Ironically, our call to worship yesterday was Psalm 30: “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. . . . You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.

At least for that one day, it was certainly true!

32 Responses leave one →
  1. Larry James permalink
    November 19, 2007

    Great story! Wish I had been there to share the laughter with you. . .nothing better!

  2. November 19, 2007

    Thank you so much for sharing! What an excellent illustration!

  3. clint permalink
    November 19, 2007

    “in the context of worship”
    It is hard to be a man when the spirit is moving. I find it helpful to spit after a good cry in front of people.

  4. Linda permalink
    November 19, 2007

    Can you share the video link here so we can all enjoy it?

  5. November 19, 2007

    I’m pretty sure this was one of the reasons Jesus sent them out two-by-two. Thanks for sharing to very transparent moments (I realize you share more than that…).

  6. November 19, 2007

    I wrote this to you yesterday. It was too precious a moment to let go by without comment. I still giggle when I run the memory tape. What a great moment for all of us!



    I loved how you were able to drop all vestige of pastor/teacher/preacher this morning after Eva’s side-splitting personalized rendition of the story of Joseph. The words “well” and “hell” will always bring back the memory of this morning. 🙂
    Your reaction was so precious. It was as though we were seated in your living room enjoying her child’s insights to this story, and your wonderful child-like reaction. Your plea of “Can someone pray for me?”seemed to have more than one meaning, in my mind; ‘pray for me to return to pastor/teacher/preacher stance’ – or my favorite; ‘pray in my stead, I can’t get control of my giggles.’ What a wonderful and memorable moment. You blessed not only our Sunday morning, but many mornings to come with this memory. Bless you and thank you!! 🙂

    One of life’s great moments!

  7. November 19, 2007

    LOL – qb saw the title of this blog post and thought, hmmm…Mike Cope’s fixin’ to go off on people who dance, but he misspelled “whaling.” Fire, brimstone, the whole mess. Oughta do those lib’ral Highlanders some good, yankin’ ’em back to the straight and narrow.

    Depressingly, however, the post was about levity of heart instead of moral indignation and doctrinal purity. Pity.


  8. Lauren Cunningham permalink
    November 19, 2007

    My favorite line was, “It’s better to be in a well than in Hell.” My family is still laughing every time we think about it. My dad saw Eva and her mom and dad as they brought up their groceries yesterday and he still couldn’t help himself:) I have a feeling this will go down as one of the unforgettable moments in Highland history!

  9. annie permalink
    November 19, 2007

    What a precious post—-wish I could’ve been there. Of course I wish that alot. Laughter IS the best medicine! Thanks for sharing, & I’m filled with gratitude to God for you during this season of giving thanks for all the blessings in my life.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  10. November 19, 2007

    Thanks, Lauren. I misspoke about this lovely child’s name.

  11. November 19, 2007

    Ditto, Linda—Preachermike,c’mon, we all want to wail till we dance! For all of us out here in non-Highland land, share that video!! please!

  12. November 19, 2007

    No teasing us, Mike. Get GKB or somebody to put that video on youtube — today.

  13. November 19, 2007

    We all need a goog laugh now and then…, although that does seem like an awkward moment.

  14. November 19, 2007

    Mike — one of my favorite memories of you was from the day the bulletin got printed with David Lang’s series titled “I Stand and Graze” instead of “I Stand Amazed.” He had penciled it in to his bulletin copy with no intention of it actually getting printed that way. I remember you leaning against that giant filing cabinet to keep from hitting the floor and I was wondering if I could fake CPR if it came to that.

    Good times. Composure is really overrated anyway, if you think about it.

  15. November 19, 2007

    Mike, I loved the way laughter kept rolling in waves through the sanctuary yesterday. So poignant and so incredibly irrepressible. Church giggles are hard to stop…especially when it’s the WHOLE community laughing together. I tried to stop laughing, and turned to my husband who is generally a source of emotional grounding for me… only to find him with his head in his hand and tears rolling down his face too. I can’t help but think God had a good laugh when that video was recorded and then waited with considerable anticipation to see how Sunday would turn out. Please put that up on youtube…. it was too precious. Always, Allie
    p.s. One of these days I’m going to make it up to the front to introduce myself in person…so I’m not just a blog lurker! :^)

  16. Teresa permalink
    November 19, 2007

    I heard this story Sunday afternoon from my ACU sophomore daughter who attends Highland. She was still rolling just telling me about it. I definitely agree with Deana that composure is way overrated!

  17. November 19, 2007

    I was running late yesterday, with a couple of my kids from Freedom in tow. We missed the end of the video by a split second. All we got to see was the aftermath, which was worth it, too. As you giggled at the front, the thirteen-year-old, wildly inappropriate as always, looked at me and asked, “Does he smoke pot?”

  18. November 19, 2007

    Zach!!!! ROFLOLOLOLOL! The best response to this blog so far, imho. Love it! Kids are so great!

  19. November 19, 2007

    Love this! And I think we all would really enjoy that video…as well as a video of you all laughing, if one exists!

  20. November 19, 2007

    Ok, Zach — the laughter is welling up again!!

    If nothing else, I’ll be showing that clip at Pepperdine, Tulsa, Zoe, etc.

  21. Alex permalink
    November 19, 2007

    Figures this would happen the week I forget about the move to one service. I was just getting ready to leave for a non-existent second service when I got a text message from a friend telling me my mistake.

  22. November 19, 2007


    Nearly in fellowship,


  23. Darryl Tippens permalink
    November 19, 2007

    So glad to get this report, Mike. Now, is there any way to relay or reconstruct what Eva’s story consisted of? Perhaps one “had to be there” to get it, but it sure would be good to be in on what exactly happened. (Church where I was last Sunday wasn’t quite so funny, so I welcome the news from other places…)

  24. November 19, 2007

    When I first read that headline, I thought it said “Walling into Dancing”. My first thought was, “what is Jeff up to now??” 🙂

  25. MRS permalink
    November 19, 2007

    Mike, thank you for making this connection about turning wailing into dancing. I am not a regular reader, but checked in today when I realized that my daughter was creating quite a stir and that there was a reference to the video on your blog.

    As the mother of the precious storyteller, I must say that I am constantly amazed and challenged by her creativity and energy.
    Her joy, enthusiasm, and resilience has always been a great example to me, but especially as our family copes with some major illness and ongoing challenges. My children constantly show me how to praise through tears and look toward the rejoicing that comes in the morning.

    I have also thought of the way we adults take ourselves too seriously and try to lock away emotions and enthusiasm. How many more souls would be brought to Christ if we all had the same joy, enthusiasm, and zest for biblical truth that we have seen in all of these young storytellers?

    Matthem 18:2 …Truly I tell you, that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

  26. November 19, 2007

    I felt like yesterday morning at Highland felt more like family than almost anything else ever has. It was sitting around the table with an incredibly funny 6 year old and she had the adults enthralled. So many of her lines were priceless…the brothers were jealous because they didn’t have rainbow clothes…Joseph’s prayer in the well- Please, please, please have a plan for me God. I will not forget this Sunday ever…but neither will I forget the Abraham and Isaac Sunday with the tears at each reading of Genesis 22. When we let go of our masks then we are able to truly worship and be a family. I say let’s keep moving to that more transparent place.

  27. Larry James permalink
    November 19, 2007

    Cope, you are obviously a great pastor.

  28. Bob A permalink
    November 19, 2007

    Mike . . Thanks for not calling on me to pray on Sunday . . . I had “lost it” and would not have found it had I been called on to speak out loud. Simply hilarious. I have a sense that this was one of the most spiritually charged times of worship I have experienced in many years as joy came in the morning and God turned our wailing into dancing (laughing). From what could one experience more edification than sharing a “belly laugh” with 1,500 or so other members of the family of God.

  29. November 19, 2007

    Great story brother.
    I pray for you ministry daily.
    I pray that during this holiday season that God will give you a double portion and over flow into your flap.
    I was looking forwsard to buying that book for the Holidays though. :-(. All your other book were so great I have taught them to my congregation and they have been so blessing to the congregation. They have a deeper reationship and hunger for righteousness and their lives are more graceious and authentic thanks to you and the grace of God. I thank you so much for what your books and most importantly your blog has done for my life over the past years that I have read it. Keep up the wonderful work brother. Ignore the critics. I love you and hope that you continue to make a differnce for the kingdom of God.

  30. November 19, 2007

    I meant to say lap not flap. I know some grampwa’s have flaps but your not there yet. May god’s blessing over flow into your lap. 🙂

  31. Buster permalink
    November 20, 2007

    Bob A and “belly laugh”!

    Here I go again

  32. Coffeebrewer permalink
    November 24, 2007

    Pastor….I was directed here by my cyber friend, Kathy. Indeed, this is a funny and yet touching story. But that’s how God is. He can take something simple and bring it to joy and then bring something else to a heart breaking moment. He is in ALL things, good and bad because He is that involved with us. It seems ironic that the scripture so fit the moment and yet…that’s how God is. Thanks for sharing that moment with so many.

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