Sabbath Meditation, Picking You Up Off the Floor

Shalom all, Shabbat is approaching. If you are Jewish or Torah-observant, I hope your table is lovely and your family or your guests are ready to meet with God at the dinner table. For my Christian friends who do not keep Shabbat, I pray your weekend is lovely as well.

I just came back from a writer’s retreat in Colorado. I made new friends and added a lot of insight for future writing projects and even for my synagogue sermons. The writers’ group was led by Serendipity House, producers of small group discussion materials for churches. Check them out at They are changing to a new paradigm, writing materials designed to foster spiritual transformation instead of just information.

Anyway, this Sabbath meditation is adapted from a writing exercise I did for Serendipity House. The session started with a video. The video panned an old warehouse in the city and moved inside to a dark room which the viewer slowly realizes is a dance studio. It is dark and depressing.

The staccato voice of an angry, old man shrieks out commands repetitively. The aged instructor berates his student, demanding more from him than he can give. The dancer is a well-muscled male who looks like a professional dancer, but he cannot please this maniacal instructor. Sweating and straining, he eventually falls to the floor exhausted. And as he lays there, the angry instructor gives up on him and leaves.

He sits for a few minutes, discouraged, knowing he lost his job for this show. Then the camera pans to a woman who has been watching the whole time. She too in an instructor. She kneels down to the floor where the dancer is. She lifts his dejected face to hers. She says, “Work with me.”

She gently turns his neck back and forth, loosening his shoulders. She takes his hands in her hands and begins leading his hands in the rhythm of the dance. Slowly they stand together and she leads him in the dance, so that he can copy her movements. He succeeds.

Many people see God like the maniacal, shrieking instructor who demands more than we can give. But perhaps he is really like the second instructor, the gentle woman who is there all the time but who becomes visible when we have fallen on the floor.

God will pick you up off the floor. He did it for Israel:

The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you. ISAIAH 62:2-5

Israel had just been through a time of failure and pain. Israel had failed and needed to be picked up from failure. God spends much of the last half of Isaiah encouraging those who returned from exile in Babylon (Isaiah wrote to a future generation, 200 years after his time).

Do you have a story of a time you failed or were hurt and someone lifted you up like God calling Israel a crown of beauty? Vss.4-5 say that God will both delight in and rejoice over Israel, his people. Yet even if you are not Jewish, God works the same way with non-Jews. He rejoices after all of us, his children. The question is: why is it so difficult for us to believe that God really takes joy in us?

The lie is that you are not good enough for God. Many people are like a single adult who does not believe in himself or herself. Many think, “No one will love me.”

The truth is that you are a crown of beauty in the hand of God. God rejoices over you as a bridegroom over a bride.

Have you fallen on the floor a few times in your life? God is not the angry world, leaving you behind and calling you a loser. God is the one in the room all the time. We tend only to see him when we are on the floor. He doesn’t walk out on us. He picks us up off the floor.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Love, Messianic Jewish, Sabbath. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Sabbath Meditation, Picking You Up Off the Floor

  1. Susan says:

    Shabbat Shalom. Glad you had a good trip. Yes I was a very bad alcoholic and drug user most of my life. I was in and out of treatment facilaties and jails. Nothing worked. Finally, one night I was literally laying on the floor, too weak to even sit up, and I cried out to God. He swooped in immediately and gave me that peace that passes all understanding that everyone always talked about, but I never knew. I havent taken a drink or drug since and have no desire for it whatsoever. So yes, I can relate with that video you watched. He has cleaned me up and changed my life. He is my King now and I gladly attempt to be His humble servant. God is wonderful. After all the horrible things I had done to myself and others, He still showed up and picked me up off that floor. Amazing.

  2. pbandj says:

    shalom derek

    very encouraging. it reminds me a lot of the “lump” video done by rob bell. anyway, i think story telling can be very influential to teach transformation rather than information. thanks for the post.


  3. robin says:

    How did god clean you up and change your life? And how did your desire for drugs go away?

  4. Susan says:

    well Robin all I can say is you had to know me and know how bad of an alcoholic and drug user I was. I’ll try to explain, I was laying on the floor and I starting crying out to Yeshua and Hashem for help, I told Him that I was too scared to live and too scared too die and that I didnt want to go to hell. A calmness and peace came over me, and I felt strength and soberness, all the times before when I tried to stop drinking I had the DT’s real bad, my body shook and violently ill, well I didnt experience any of that, it was truly a miracle. You just had to of known me and see who I am now and you would know I am telling the truth. Every time I look at alcohol or smell it , it makes me sick, and I always say ” God must of put a double whammy on me cuz I cant stand to be even around the stuff” Ha. anyway I hope I made myself clearer.

  5. robin says:


    Thanks for writing back, I have a drug problem, you where on the floor one time and you stopped and thats it?
    send me your e-mail and we can talk more, dont want to do this on dereks blog



  6. Susan says:

    Robin, don’t get me wrong, I had been praying about my addictions for Years. I had prayed to God many, many times about it. I had been an alcoholic/drug addict for over 20 years. I can’t speak for God but I’m going to try to tell you what I think happened. Like I said before even while I was praying to God for help all those years I was at the same time going into different rehabs and 12 step programs over the course of my addiction. Was thrown in jail numerous times also. But I kept praying. I personally believe that God had to let me go through all that so that when He finally did heal me, I would have absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was Him and Him only that delivered me from the addictions. Do you know what I mean? Like if He would of gone ahead and cured me the first time that I prayed to Him about my addictions, He probably knew that I would end up thinking that I did it myself, or the rehabs helped me or something and not acknoledge that it was He who healed me and no one else so that the eventual miracle that happened could (and is used) to glorify His name. Or maybe he knew how weak I was and I absolutely needed a miracle because I wasnt strong enough to do it on my own. Like I said, I can’t speak for God. I only know that that evening after many years of crying out to Him, he answered and healed me completely. If you still want to get in contact with me, leave your email address on this blog. Hope I helped.

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