I took ballroom dancing lessons with my wife a few years ago. It was really fun, and we greatly enjoyed ourselves. Two problems would present themselves during the class, however. One, the instructor would have us switch partners from time to time so we could learn to be “adaptive.” This was very uncomfortable for me. I never really planned on dancing with anyone but my wife. That relationship is exclusive and I don’t intend on allowing anyone to “cut in.” My wife is not ‘number one,’ she is the only one.
The second challenge was that my dear wife had a problem letting me lead. The result was less fluid movement, an occasional tangling of our feet, or sometimes running into other couples. It was less than graceful – less than helpful – when she didn’t follow. It was awkward and difficult when we both tried to lead. These two difficulties tend to rear their head in our life in Christ as well.
During a time in God’s word, I came across this passage in the Message translation, “One final word, friends. We ask you – urge you is more like it – that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance” (1 Thessalonians 4:1-2). How often do we try to live in Christ through a “dogged religious plod”? Trying to do this and to do that; trying to seize control of our lives and make them holy by our effort? In this effort we will often focus on other partners: ministries, habits, rituals, self-degradation, or judging others. In this effort we try to lead and our dance with God becomes jerky, awkward, difficult; a burden. We’re stepping on each others’ toes and bumping, sometimes crashing into others along the way.
Dancing – real dancing – is not a competition where each is trying to outdo the other…or even the other couples on the floor. In fact, like a school of fish, when dancing is done properly the whole assembly moves together with rhythmic fluidness. In a real dance each partner’s desire is unity with the other. It is a cooperation where each partner is the focus and desire of the other. It is an intimate union of will and the result is beautiful. That is what our walk with God is meant to be, a “living, spirited dance.” The Message goes on in verse 7, “God hasn’t invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful – as beautiful on the inside as the outside.”
Is God himself, and intimate union with him, the focus and desire of your heart? Maybe you need to step outside of your norm: excuse yourself from your other partners in this dance and be alone with Jesus, the lover of your soul. Make that time. Let him court your heart, and be willing to surrender it; all of it. Take his hand…and dance.