Saturday, March 24, 2012

Guidance


GUIDANCE = God – U & I Dance. This acronym for “guidance” is not my own, and it has been circulating on the Internet in various forms for more than 20 years, but it is one that bears repeating. Partnership ballroom dancing is to me a wonderful metaphor for a Biblical marriage (Mark 10:6-9), which, in turn, pictures the relationship between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:22-33).

In a fallen world, partnership dancing, like marriage, is subject to the influences of our own sin nature and of worldly distractions and idols (Mark 10:1-6). Before I was saved, my dance practices with my husband Richard were more like a shouting match than a harmonious collaboration, and our competitive energies and frustrations were mostly aimed against one another rather than at our actual competitors.

On one memorable occasion nearly 20 years ago, furious that Richard was not seeing things my way (because of course I knew I was right!), I stormed out of an evening practice session and proceeded to walk home. Never mind that home was about 5 miles away, through dark streets, and that I was wearing a skimpy practice dress and high-heeled Latin shoes, and that I didn’t even have the house keys.

After realizing that I wasn’t planning on returning to the practice, and that I was too “directionally challenged” to find my way home safely, Richard set out after me in the van. When he caught up with me he quietly but sternly asked me to get in, only to have another car stop and the driver ask me if this man (Richard) was bothering me! At that point I had enough sense to say “No, ma’am,” and to humbly get in the van and beg Richard for his forgiveness.

So before salvation, our stormy dance partnership reflected neither an ideal marriage (Colossians 3:18-19) nor the submissive and trusting attitude a believer should have toward her Savior (Proverbs 3:5; Romans 10:3-4; James 4:7). But in its pure and perfect form, dancing can be a beautiful illustration of both relationships.

The gentleman invites the lady with an extended hand; the lady accepts and moves toward him. He clasps her hand in his, protectively yet tenderly; she delicately balances her free hand on the support of his outstretched arm. He cradles her shoulder blade with his other hand, and she melts into their point of connection at the rib cage where she is keenly aware of his intended movement. He leads with power but without force; she responds by following with sensitivity, without tension or doubt.

Together they dance as one, creating a far more beautiful picture than either could alone. In her flowing, colorful ball gown, the lady resembles an orchid nourished and supported by a sturdy tree, able to sway in the breeze without separating from the stability and protection of her partner.

For all this to occur, the lady must completely and graciously submit to the gentleman’s lead, which is only possible if she senses that he can be trusted to always do what is best for her, even if it means sacrificing his own comfort or glory or putting himself in harm’s way to protect her. Most of the time, she dances backward, so she cannot see where she is going and must trust her partner to navigate around the other couples or obstacles that may be in the ballroom. Dancing on stage is particularly perilous, as she must trust him not to let her stray over the edge into the orchestra pit!.

Theatre Arts ballroom dancing involves even greater trust, as the gentleman balances the lady in overhead lifts (video). Sometimes their only point of connection is his hand on her back while she faces the ceiling, trusting him to balance her entering, during and exiting the lift, and not to drop her even if something goes wrong. If she panics or struggles, the shifts in balance make the lift even more dangerous and likely to result in a fall.

Despite the greater challenges of this style, Richard grew fond of it early in our dance career, for as he said, “When you’re overhead, you’re not in a real strong bargaining position!”

The Bible tells us that wives should submit themselves to their husbands, and that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19). The two go hand in hand – submission to one who loves sacrificially with an agape type of love. Why would we not willingly submit to One Who loves us so much that He gave His own life to save us? (John 15:13; Romans 5:8)

So not only is the dance partnership a mirror of the marriage bond, but also of the believer’s relationship to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives (Acts 10:36). He never imposes His will on us, but where He leads, we should want to follow because He alone is completely faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 89:8; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13), true (Isaiah 25:1; Revelation 3:14; John 14:6), and loving (Ephesians 2:4; 1 John 4:7). As in the dance, He always initiates (1 John 4:19), awaits our response, and then takes us further based on how closely we follow (James 4:8).

The outcome is up to us -- we can pout in the corner and refuse to dance. Or, we can begin to follow Him and then fall out of step or even flat on our face, because we listen to our pride and impatience and insist on making our own moves (Proverbs 16:18). Ideally, we accept His dance invitation and attune ourselves to His subtle signals, shutting out all distractions so we can swiftly and completely respond to His direction with sensitivity and commitment (Acts 17:28), following Him every step of the way.

He will give us guidance -- the wisdom, joy and fulfillment we desire -- if we follow Him (Matthew 16:24; 19:21,28; Mark 2:14; 8:34; 10:21; John 10:27). He is the one Partner Who will guide us through the dance of life with perfect grace and harmony until He safely leads us home.

Before Richard and I begin each dance practice, we pray that He will empty us of ourselves so we can yield completely to His Holy Spirit. We pray that we will dance together as one person, his leading and my following in perfect harmony, reflecting to each other and to our audience the love that He has for us. May this prayer also be the model for every precious moment we spend with Our Savior, following Him wherever He leads, trusting in His perfect direction, protection, provision and timing.


© 2012 Laurie Collett


39 comments:

  1. Thanks, Denise! You are a blessing!
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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  2. Thank You for this interesting description of GUIDANCE. It is very original and could be good example for others. Greetings and blessings for You :)

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  3. Thank you, Zim -- I appreciate your encouragement! May God bless you and your ministry.
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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  4. I started making a comment here but I scrolled up to check on something and when I came back what I had written had disappeared. It may have published but I know I didn't hit "publish" so I don't know what happened. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this post, reading about your experiences, and comparisons. When I was a teenager, I attended a church that not only frowned on dancing, but thought it was something that a Christian would not and could not participate in. I was convinced in a way but I certainly had reservations about it because I had danced (tap and ballet) when I was a child, and square danced at school as a preteen. Anyway, to make a long story short, I stopped dancing at that point and as I grew older I had a totally different view and wished I knew how to dance. My husband had the same experience. Now one of our favorite sayings, one we use almost every day when we are trying to decide whether to go somewhere or do something, we say
    "Might as well. Can't dance." I'm glad you can't make that statement. Evidently you can dance and do it very well.
    Thank you for sharing on Spiritual Sundays.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

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  5. Although my wife Alex can dance well, to her I have two left feet - totally hopeless at it.
    I also take note of Charlotte's statement that some churches frown at the idea of dancing. I have come across this myself back in the 1970s, when I was a young (newly converted) Christian. Of course, I started to believe that dancing was "sensual" therefore not godly. I have since then changed my mind, even participating in Barn Dancing (that is Square Dancing, I think, in the USA), organised by the Social Committee in our church.
    Your post was very enlightening. I never saw that dancing can be a symbol of our relationship with Christ.
    A very good post.

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  6. Dear Charlotte,
    Thanks so much for your comment, and for your persistence in posting it! It's a shame your church discouraged you from dancing, since about two-thirds of references to dancing in the Bible portray it in a positive light as a form of praise and worship. Like anything else, dance can become an idol or be misused for wrong purposes, but I believe God intended it as a way to express our joy and gratitude for being fearfully and wonderfully made in His image.
    Have a blessed week in Him!
    Laurie

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  7. Hi Frank,
    Thanks for your kind words and encouragement! When a beginner dancer complains of having two left feet, my husband says that we do, too -- he has one and I have one! At our Rhapsody Ballroom, we have "contradancing" once a month, which I think is the same as or very similar to square dancing or barn dancing. The Singles group in our church is thinking about having an outing there, and another church and Christian school has brought a grade school class to the ballroom for a field trip and group lesson. I think dancing got a "bad rap" in the 50s when Elvis started shaking his hips. Certainly there are forms of worldly dancing Christians should avoid, but I believe we can dance to His glory.
    God bless,
    Laurie

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  8. Laurie said,
    "He has one (left foot) and I have one!
    !!LOL!!

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  9. Great illustration of both marriage and the Christian life.

    Imagine the disaster if the woman insists on leading. Dancing backward she will never be able to see the edge of the pit or other dancers. The Lord is strong enough to pull us out of danger, but frequently in marriage one's mate isn't. It doesn't make sense to try to take the lead in the follower's position.

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  10. Amen, dfish! So true in dancing, in marriage, and in our Christian walk. If I had figured that out before I was saved, our dancing would have been a lot smoother in the earlier years! Sadly, many Christian women today believe the world's lies that the Biblical ideal of marriage in some way restricts them or limits their self-expression, rather than seeing it as a great blessing and privilege.
    God bless,
    Laurie

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  11. And don't you love it that God is the perfect gentleman? He extended His hand to me and I gratefully accepted it! I love the beautiful dance we are doing together! Blessings, Laurie!

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  12. Beautifully said, Joan! It is the best invitation anyone could ever accept!
    love in Him,
    Laurie

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  13. Great comparison, Laurie! I've never been much of a dancer, but in the dance of life, I definitely want God leading!!

    In His Lo♥e, Ann

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  14. I've wanted to be a dancer. Would love to do so now. However, age and lack of flexibility would make it not work out... AND my husband is a musician, but not a dancer. I don't like to watch dancing on TV very often -- DWTS can be OK, but too sexually oriented most of the time -- but dancing ability is a blessing. And it's nice to know you throw your hearts and trust to each other and to our Lord. Nothing else truly matters/counts. Thanks for your wise sharing.

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  15. Dear Ann,
    Thanks so much for visiting and commenting! May we always follow His lead!
    God bless you,
    Laurie

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  16. Dear caryjo,

    Thanks so much for your comment. We have dancers of all ages and abilities dancing in our ballroom, and in our travels we have even encountered dancers who enjoy dancing beautifully despite handicaps including stroke, knee surgery, rheumatoid arthritis, deafness, blindness, or even amputation.

    With God all things are possible! He has granted us the grace to spread His Word through a physically demanding style of dance for nearly 25 years now! My husband is 64 and I am 58. God is so good!

    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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    Replies
    1. Well, I'm 66; if you ever move into our area, I'm sure I'd like to try!!!

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    2. Likewise, if you ever come to Tampa -- look us up!

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  17. I have never heard this lovely take on the word "guidance", Laurie. What a beautiful story you tell when you speak of dancing. So beautiful to see the passion you hold for this lovely practice.

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    1. Thanks, Laura, for your encouragement! God is so good to give us the desires of our heart, when those desires are conformed to His will.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  18. Thank you for sharing your True Story at “Tell Me A True Story” Blog Party At http://letmetelluastory.blogspot.com/
    Your comparison of the dance and our yielding to the Holy Spirit and accepting His leading was so precious!

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    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, A Joyful Noise! Thanks also for hosting the link-up.
      Blessings,
      Laurie

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  19. I love this post! Such a beautiful description of both dance and marriage. ;) Thank you for linking up with Faith Talking Tuesdays.

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    1. Audra Marie, your encouragement is a great blessing!
      May God bless you and your ministry,
      Laurie

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  20. Hi Laurie - I was chuckling at the beginning of your story because I too can be quite stubborn (sh - dont tell anyone :) ) Great analogy dancing this life and dancing it with our Lord and Saviour.'
    God bless Laurie and thank you for linking up again. i love seeing you there :)
    Tracy

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  21. Hi Tracy,
    I think every saint has had his or her stubborn moments, especially before being saved! Just look at Saul before he became Paul!
    God bless you too, and thanks so much for your inspirational writing and for hosting the link-up!
    Laurier

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  22. Thank you for the beautiful analogy about dancing...and for the acronym for guidance.

    Blessings to you,
    Alida

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  23. Dear Alida,
    Thanks so much for your visit and kind comment.
    God bless you too!
    Laurie

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  24. Laurie:

    This is a beautiful analogy and I love the acronym. When we submit to God and place our complete faith and trust in Him, the "dance" goes so much smoother.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Blessings,
    Joan

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  25. Thanks, Joan! May we glide through the dance of life perched on His arm, following His lead!
    God bless,
    Laurie

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  26. Dancing with my Saviour.....following His lead and learning the "unforced rhythms of grace". Matt 11:28-30, The Message

    Beautiful post....thanks for linking up! And, thanks for your words of encouragement on my posts. It's a pleasure to "meet you". :)

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  27. Thanks so much, Stacy! Praise God that we can rest in His arms and trust Him to show us the way!.

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  28. Love the new way to look at guidance -- very beautiful and insightful. I was really blessed by your post and how you linked it all back to the Lord.
    Blessings to you!

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  29. Thank you, dear Rachel, for your words of encouragement. You are a blessing!
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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  30. This is such a beautiful analogy and an incredible story! Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  31. Thanks, Mary, for your kind words! I am blessed that you enjoyed it!
    God bless,
    Laurie

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  32. Laurie, I hardly know what to write here -- being just overwhelmed by the beauty of your description of what it is like to dance, as one. Just, thank you. I am so grateful for your words over on my blog and that you pointed me here. Wow.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Jennifer! I am so glad you commented and enjoyed your visit.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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