I took a step forward and as I did my dance instructor resisted moving back. He held his grip on my hand and smiled, looking at me squarely in the eye. Joking but also serious, he scolded me, “Let me lead!! I’m supposed to lead, you stinker!!”
I laughed along with the other 14 students who were there with me in the small student lounge of the local community college. My dance instructor held his frame and I met him to match his frame in reverse. Our hands in the correct position for the Foxtrot, I prepared to try again. As I did, I felt the Holy Spirit echo the same words to me. “Let Me lead.”
Ballroom dancing, unlike the free style dances most popular today, is the sort of dance where there must be a leader and the other partner follows. The male leads while the female partner follows. It looks so easy on DWTS, but once you actually try it, you find out it’s not that easy. After you learn the steps, and how to recognize when your partner is leading you to turn or twirl or step forward, it is like walking on clouds. Love it! Love it! Love it!
On this particular day, when I got scolded for leading instead of letting my partner lead, I had a sort of revelation about myself. I try to control the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that absurd?
Yes, I know. It is. It’s supposed to be the other way around.
That is kind of our tendency, though isn’t it? I mean, as human beings, we always want to be in control. It’s been that way since Adam and Eve. Satan’s temptation to Eve was first to question God’s word, “Did God really say…?” Then he slyly said, “God doesn’t want you to eat this fruit because He knows if you do, you’ll be calling the shots. You’ll be in control, setting the rules for good and evil.” Genesis 3:5 my paraphrase. Some folks think the “knowing good and evil” part meant that Adam and Eve would know the difference between good and evil. But that’s not it.
It wasn’t that they didn’t know what was good or evil. They knew that. God just told them what was good and evil. It was good for them to eat whatever they wanted in the garden. Bad if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were not ignorant. Just rebellious.
Letting go of this need to be in control is tough. It’s been a few years since I took ballroom dancing lessons and just recently I had a dream where again, the Lord spoke to me. I dreamed I was trying to fill a pitcher with water. I was at a vending machine. Weird. But that’s where I was getting the water. After the pitcher was full, I poured the water into my hands. As I walked away, the water seeped through my hands, spilling out onto the floor. I remember thinking, “Boy! Was that dumb! I should’ve left the water in the pitcher.” Duh!
I woke up and started to ponder over the dream. What does this mean? And the Lord spoke to me. I recalled water as symbolism for the Holy Spirit in many places in Scripture. The Lord said to me, “You’re still trying to control the Holy Spirit.”
Time to repent.
How do I give up control? I must allow my mind to be transformed by the Word of God. I ask God to make His will mine and remember I am not my own.
“Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.” 2 Corinthians 6:19
The deeper question I ask is why? Why do I struggle with letting go of control? Simply, I don’t trust Him as I should.
For some odd reason, I think I could do it better. Go ahead and snicker. It is laughable. I think I can trust myself better, but oh how the past years have shown I can’t.
“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.” Proverbs 28:26
Making the mistakes I have made, believe it or not, as taught me to say no to myself, to my foolish heart and wait on God’s leading.
Failure has been a good teacher. Though, I would rather not have made the mistakes I made and faced the painful consequences that followed. Painful as the consequences were, the pain has been seared into my brain to remind me of how I felt when I disobeyed God and did my own thing.
Walking more wisely now, I wait on the Lord. I’m a whole lot slower to make decisions before consulting God. I’m not talking about the silly stuff like what I should wear today, but the important decisions such as what job to take or even who to date.
Lest anyone think I’ve arrived to some level of spirituality where I no longer make mistakes but always follow the Lord, let me assure you I still fail the lessons at times. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m getting there.
The winter I took the ballroom dancing lessons was unforgettable. I gained a lot of respect for ballroom dancers. The few weeks I took it I only had to commit to three hours for one day. For dancers it is a long term commitment of hours of practice where they discipline their bodies. It takes a lot of strength and endurance. The other important element of partnership dancing is a trust in their partners. The partnership will never work if there is no trust.
Now, that I have learned to slow down a bit more and wait on the Lord, the next lesson is to be quick to respond when the Lord bids me to follow His lead.
Response is a clear sign of trust. Partnership dancing doesn’t work, if you don’t respond to the leading of your partner. I must actively respond to God’s leading and not remain still. I like the saying, “God doesn’t move parked cars.” You must decide to follow His lead and do it. Don’t sit still like a parked car.
The Lord desires to partner with us through life. The partnership only
works if I trust Him and let Him lead. I must trust His guidance rather than my own understanding (see Proverbs 3:5). I must trust that He knows better than I do and He has my best interests at heart. He guides; I follow. He sways; I sway. He turns; I turn. Oh what a beautiful dance of movement we can create if we trust Him to lead!