The Divine Dance
By Jennifer Slattery
When my husband and I were first married, we took up country dancing. Well, we tried, anyway. A local club offered free lessons one afternoon a week, so each week we’d go and do our best to scurry across the dance floor, preferably in time to the music. We weren’t very good. Actually, we stunk, so I decided to practice at home. I went to our local library and checked out dance instruction videos; and while my husband was at work, I practiced. Then I met him at the door with arms positioned, ready to dance.
The more I “learned” the worse I got. I stepped on his feet, jerked left when he wanted to go right; and combined, we created a robotic display that was anything but romantic. You see, the problem was I was so convinced I knew how to dance, I lost sight of my dance partner.
Often, I’m like that with God. I’m so focused on what I know to do, whether that be reading my Bible, teaching a Sunday school class, or fulfilling various responsibilities, it’s easy to take my eyes off the dancer. It’s easy to turn what should be an act of intimate surrender into rote behavior which ultimately leads to burn-out and ineffectiveness. But when I surrender to the dancer, forsaking my ideas and agendas, clearing my vision of everything but my Lead Dancer, everything flows.
Have you ever watched professional ballroom dancers or skating partners? There’s an intimate dynamic that occurs between them. The crowd can scream and holler, cameras can flash, but they don’t see it. They are focused 100 percent on their partner, attuned to the slightest signal, responding instantly, beautifully, effortlessly.
What if we knew God that intimately? What if we were so focused on Him, so in tune with Him, like Jesus we could say, “I do only what my Father wills.”? And what keeps us from that? What keeps us angsting, striving, and experiencing burn-out?
One Sunday, I spent the afternoon studying the Holy Spirit. Throughout Scripture, we are told the Holy Spirit guides us, has fellowship with us, teaches us, fills us, prays for us, and overshadows us.
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14 ~ Fellowship–intimate interaction.
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” John 6:63 ~ Life-giving.
Apart from Him, apart from full submission to Him, our efforts lead to futility. No matter how great our ministry, how in-depth our Bible study time, or how devoted our service, if it’s not ignited, guided and sustained by the Holy Spirit, it will be nothing but the effort of man operating on the wisdom of man to do the things of man. But we were called to more!
“The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; His word was on my tongue.” 2 Samuel 23:2
Our ultimate goal as Christians should be to be cleansed and open vessels, ready to do God’s will. Like funnels, conduits of God’s power and grace.
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18
To be filled, we must first be emptied—of ourselves, our sin, our wants, our desires. I believe anytime we cling to anything–even good things–other than God, they become a hinderance to the working of the Holy Spirit. That job we fear losing, the ministry we can’t let fail, whatever it is... when we begin to strive for it, hold tight to it, we begin to operate in our own will. To be overshadowed, we need to stay surrendered completely, focused on our Dancer, not the dance. Otherwise, I believe, our actions lack power. Why? Because we’ve left our dancer behind.
Lord, may we so driven by Your Spirit, so infused by Your presence, that Your love compels us. Remove all expectations and obligations except that of drawing near to You in full surrender, listening to Your voice, and obeying. Draw us into Your Dance, Oh, Lord.
Copyright 2012. Jennifer Slattery. Used by permission.
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Jennifer Slattery lives in the Midwest with her husband and their daughter. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, Internet Café Devotions, the Christian Pulse, and Jewels of Encouragement; and maintains a Devotion blog at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.
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