Those who know me know I love dancing. I often find life lessons in the dance performances I’ve watched or the corrections received from a teacher in class. I grew up in the ballet world but I have branched out a little bit in my adult years.
A few years ago I took several swing dance classes. There are different types of swing dances, but they are all done to the big band music from the 1920s through 1940s. When dancing with a partner, one person is the “lead” and one person is the “follow.” Hand in hand, and facing each other. The lead uses their connected hands to direct his follow. The steps usually aren’t in a predetermined order. The lead will make signals and the follow will respond by performing her corresponding steps. There are times where the lead will put one hand on his follow’s back, instead of holding both of her hands. With occasional gentle pressure and wrist movement, the lead can still give signals to his follow and guide her where he wants her to go. But the follow must be positioned to receive the signals, and that usually means leaning backwards some, so she can feel his hand on her back.
At the end of one swing dance class, the instructor put on music and the whole class paired up to dance on their own. As we danced, I noticed two couples accidentally getting a little too close to each other. One follow pulled her lead’s hands and stopped short, while the other follow tensed up as her lead attempted to turn her out of the way. The instructor immediately stopped the music to address the whole class on what happened. He pointed out that the follow’s reactions caused a bigger collision. He reminded us that the lead’s hand on the follow’s back is there as a guide and moving against it can cause both dancers to trip. Then he said, “When you are in your lead’s hand, you never have to worry about where you’re going.”
A light bulb switched on in my mind! ”That’s what it is like with God!” If I am resting in the Father’s hand, I don’t need to be worried about where I am going. Similar to a dance partnership, the more I’m leaning into God’s hand, the more I am going to be able to pick up his cues. And the better I can pick up his cues, the better I’m going to dance.
So how do we do that when we are not physically hand-in-hand like on a dance floor? We spend our time in God’s Word—that’s our music. We pray—that’s our hand-in-hand connection. And we enjoy fellowship with one another—the other people dancing around us.
God knows where he is leading us, and he’s always guiding us through the steps. Stopping short or leaning away from his hand doesn’t make our dancing easier—it makes it harder. Just like I have to follow my dance partner’s signals and trust him to lead me, I can trust God’s leadership of me. And the more I trust him, the easier it is to lean back, feel his signals, and enjoy the dance.