So close that the leader’s softest nudge, gentlest pressure, or slightest shift is felt by the one following…
The summer between high school and college was a sweet one for the then (and still now) daddy’s-girl. Innocence intact and dreams gripped in my manicured fingers, I had a longing to sharpen my ballroom skills. My daddy, after watching me unsuccessfully attempt to find a partner, offered to attend ballroom classes with me.
Now, mind you, my father is a 6’4” cowboy boot wearing man. He is a splendid mixture of small-town-man, country-boy, and ol’-timer. He had never danced at all and to say we were a comical sight as we shuffled through the waltz or tumbled through the swing is an understatement. But I was happy in that moment, carefree, my pretty pink-nailed fingers in his calloused ones, as we would sway and spin around the mirrored room to the music of our laughter.
The summer, more than a decade later, was a painful one for the then tattered woman. Innocence shattered and dreams snatched from trembling hands, I had a longing to find the pieces of me that had been scattered over the years. My daughter, being six, tagged along to ballroom classes with me.
Emma would sit and eat cookies while she laughed as I tried to remember old steps with new partners. Occasionally I would come across a partner that knew the steps, led well, and could skillfully guide me around the ballroom floor. They danced and led the current move while planning the upcoming steps and fighting the gravity that was so determined to pull me down as I spun around in heels. They’d apply pressure to my back, raise my arm, or shift to move me where they wanted me, without making it too obvious, so that we worked as one. No matter the song, the same guidance remained – whether we were spinning to a fast beat or gently swaying to a slower one – I knew the basics and could follow because we were connected and I could feel his movements. Because they were so adept at leading, and I trusted their ability, sometimes I could forget about everything else and focus only on the moment I was in, not worrying about the next movement or the judgment of onlookers.
I heard a missionary say one time that walking with the Lord was no different than dancing. As I mulled over her words, I was intrigued by the thought of being so close to Christ that the slightest nudge caused me to change direction, step or turn. Over the years I’ve thought about this imagery and knew that even if I felt as though I was wildly spinning through the steps of life Jesus was there. When I stumbled, took a wrong step, or wasn’t sure about the next movement – He was there. He is not going to lead me where He does not go – He is not going to drop the connection that I so desperately need to follow. He is in this moment with me now, and already knows the next one, and the one after. He is perfect at directing the steps and the timing. Jim Elliot* said, “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” Oh, how I desire to do exactly that! I can trust His leading and focus on the assignment at hand, not worrying about the future or the enemy. I can just be in this moment with Him. I am free to dwell with Him in this moment, to breathe Him in, to abide in Him.
I long to be so close to Christ that I feel and follow His softest nudge, gentlest pressure, or slightest shift. Sometimes I stumble – usually over my own self – but as long as I stay connected to Him I know He will steady me. I don’t need to know the next move, I just need to know, and be connected to, The One that is leading it. The joy of the Lord sets my feet to dancing (or to move in whatever direction He is leading me) and I can boldly follow knowing that He will not lead me where He does not go. And we dance.
* Philip James Elliot (October 8, 1927 – January 8, 1956) was a missionary to Ecuador, where he and his missionary friend-.Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Peter Fleming Nate Saint-were martyred