Have you ever considered how our relationship with God is more like a dance than anything else? It may seem a little strange at first, but it is worth reflecting on this image especially if like me, you are not a great dancer. In his delightful book Doctrine That Dances, Robert Smith wrote these intriguing words:
“When I meditated on the word Guidance I kept seeing ‘dance’ at the end of the word. I remember reading that doing God’s will is a lot like dancing. When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn’t flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music.”
Dancing on your own
The uncertainty and upheaval of this year has made many people feel as if we are dancing out of control. And as a church leader I have been asked to give direction on many things that I have had little training in and fewer answers for. It has felt like I have been dancing on my own a lot of the time and that has not been a pretty sight!
A large part of our struggle as Christians centres on surrendering to God’s will and letting God lead us in the dance of faith. For someone like me, who is a pedantic forward-planner and likes to know what is happening months in advance, this has been very hard. It has left me feeling vulnerable and deeply uncertain at times, but it has also taught me to trust so much more in the leading of God’s Spirit. I have had to listen for God as he has called the next steps of the dance.
Dancing with scripture
One of the portions of scripture I have found most comforting, as well as insightful, during this year has been the “middle section” of the Bible, which includes the books of Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. These words of ancient wisdom have offered timely guidance, real solace and clear direction in the midst of the whirlwind of Covid-19. Perhaps this is similar to what Jeremiah was referring to when he spoke of how the Israelites needed to ask God for his leading, when confronted with the crossroads of faith.
This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it’ (Jeremiah 16:16).
In his turmoil, the Psalmist also called out to God, giving the Lord authority to take back the lead in the dance once more: “Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart. Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found” (Psalm 119:34-35).
Lead Holy Spirit lead
Becoming a willing dance partner is a life-long learning process and there have been many times where I have found myself trying to tell God which way He should move. Of course, this doesn’t end up working out to well and I usually trip over my own two feet. Thankfully, God is gracious enough to take me by the hand, lift me up to my full height and lead us in the dance again. Sadly, I think this will be a repetitive pattern over the rest of my years of discipleship, but I will truly seek to allow the Spirit to whisper God’s instructions to my ‘inner ear’ of faith. Jesus has already promised us that the role of the Spirit will be to speak into our hearts: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13).
The word ‘guiDANCE’
If you look at the word Guidance carefully, you will note that it has the letters G.U.I. in front of the word ‘dance.’ This is such a wonderful way of reminding ourselves that God is willing to be our dance partner and to lead us through the music of the different songs in our lives. Some of the songs will be fast and upbeat, while others will be melancholic and slow. However, the recipe for a successful dance lies in this simple formula:
G (God) – U (you) – I (and I) can DANCE together.
“The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person, and gentle guidance and skill from the other.” – Robert Smith
As we venture into the remaining days of 2020 and then try to re-position ourselves for the New Year, I encourage us all to keep listening for the still small voice of our Lord and to trust that the instructions God gives us will make the dance more beautiful and absolutely worthwhile. God bless you and enjoying Dancing with the Lord.