Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Come, Dance with Me
By Micky Wolf
One of the ways my beloved and I enjoy relaxing—along with millions of other folks—is watching the television show Dancing with the Stars. If it were simply about the pros boggling the mind and dazzling the eye with their breath-taking swirls, lifts and kicks, that would be one thing. However, what I suspect many people appreciate is being able to share the journey of each of the competing ‘stars’, many of whom have little or no formal dance training. In other words, they are, in many ways, every man and every woman.
Apart from the actual dances the couples work hard to present each week, the participants provide many insightful and inspiring life-lessons for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. It is likely they have no intention of making any kind of religious statement; however, there are aspects of their experiences we can definitely relate to as Christians.
Dancing with the Master
There are numerous references to dancing in Scripture, many of which involve the people of Israel and the new Christ-converts celebrating and rejoicing in the Lord—and He in them. So, what if, in this moment and time, the Holy Spirit is extending an invitation, “Come, dance with me?” What would that mean to you?
One of the first things the participants learn on the dancing show is the importance of trusting their partner.
From the first moment the pro dancer takes the inexperienced star into his or her arms, they are quick to make it clear—“I’m the pro. You need to do what I say and follow my lead.” Ouch.
Many of these newbie dancers are successful, highly-accomplished professionals in their own right. “And now you, you’re telling me I have to do whatever you ask?”
How often do we respond similarly to God? Question His direction? Tell Him we trust Him—and then promptly turn around and try to do our own thing—often with unpleasant or painful consequences?
Study and practice…
It doesn’t take long for the participants to realize how vitally important practice and study is to becoming a good dancer.
Same could be said for each of us when we accept God’s invitation to partner with him in helping to bring about the Kingdom here on earth. It would be tempting to believe we can develop meaningful relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit without taking time to ponder, pray, and read the Bible. Foundational to moving in unity and harmony—whether on the dance floor or in daily life with God—is understanding the time and commitment it takes to get to know His desires, His will, His direction for our lives.
For many of the participants, this experience is their first with the rigors and demands—physical, mental, and emotional—which are all part of the process of becoming a good ballroom dancer.
Our religious and spiritual journey is similar. “Staying with” [as Ignatius would encourage] the ups and downs, joys and sorrows, of becoming a true Christ-follower is most often marked by how willing we are to endure and keep going—with whatever we encounter in daily life. Not always easy, however, the rewards of deepening relationship with God, the moments of personal healing, and the blessings of loving and serving Him will far outweigh the present difficulties.
Pressing through the pain…
It usually doesn’t take more than a couple of weeks of hard work on the part of the participants before their minds, spirits and bodies begin to groan, creak or blister with the relentless repetition of complicated steps necessary to develop the beautifully styled choreography.
Such is the case with you and I as we say yes to the Lord in allowing Him to mold and shape us into the unique person He has created each of us to be. The ‘honeymoon’ period is wonderful. He gives us many consolations, speaking so clearly we cannot miss His voice. And then, He gently but persistently invites us to go deeper—to open our hearts and souls to the darkness and woundedness we carry within. It hurts. It’s painful to the core at times. And yet, in choosing to press through it, we discover the mercy and loving-kindness of a compassionate God we could not ever have envisioned as young, eager, more immature Christians.
The stars who commit to dancing on the show do so for a variety of reasons. For many of them, the motivation is not solely that of winning, but of taking a risk, of embracing adventure, and developing some new skills in the process.
Too often we perceive the value and worth of our life as depending on our wherewithal to ‘be successful’. Interestingly enough, one need go no further than the Scriptures to discover Jesus was a man considered by many during his day to be the quintessential example of failure. Really? Well, here we are, thousands of years later, with more thousands of available resources than ever before to help us learn how to live and love as he demonstrated while among us. A failure? Hardly.
Grace and joy abound…
It is not difficult to notice the grace and joy that spills over as the participants on the show practice and rehearse long hours each day, as they learn new steps and routines, for as long as they remain on the show.
Similarly, as with the dancers, you and I experience peace and joy as we respond to the Lord’s promptings and nudging and take new steps in our own unique journey. We may even pause to celebrate and savor the moment. And when we can string several new inspirations, understandings and revelations from the Holy Spirit together, we discover we are growing in confidence and trust of He who dwells within us.
Caring and community…
Last, but in no way least, most every star on the show brings with them a real hope of winning the Mirror Ball Trophy, yet there is an undeniable sense of support and camaraderie—of truly desiring the best for those with whom they share the polished ballroom floor each week.
The sense of unity and authentic community seems more the exception than the rule these days. However, it is imperative, most especially as Christians, that we take responsibility for our part in helping create opportunities for people to feel welcome, safe, accepted and loved. At home. In the work place. At church. Even on the dance floor.
God made it very clear—from the very beginning—that it is not good for man, or woman, to be alone. Or, for that matter, God either.
Listen. Hear the notes? Hear the orchestra?
The voice? The invitation?
“Come, will you dance with me?”