The Divine Dance

When Steve and I were first married, we took up country dancing. Well, we tried, anyway. A local bar 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.

I think 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% 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?

On 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.

2 Corinthian 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

Fellowship–intimate interaction.

John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”

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!

2 Samuel 23:2 “The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; His word was on my tongue.”

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.

Ephesians 5:18 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

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 be like Paul, so driven by Your Spirit, so infused by Your presence, that Your love compels us. (1 Corinthians 9:16) 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.

 
Let’s talk about this!

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about living fully surrendered, Spirit-driven and empowered lives. We all want to be there, right? We all want to experience the “power of His resurrection.” Stop and consider, what are some things that get in the way of experiencing the abundant life God promised? And what steps can you take to draw near, to come empty, and to receive all that God has in store for you?

What might our churches, our homes, our cities look like if Christians joined and stayed in the divine dance?

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What I Can’t Do by Joanne Sher

I love today’s post by fellow Living By Grace hostess Joanne Sher because she does ALOT!  She maintains a personal blog at An Open Book, blogs daily at FaithWriters’ Blog, posts monthly at Jewels of Encouragement,  the Midwestern group blog The Barn Door, and Internet Cafe’ Devotions  and contributes to the Faithwriters’ Writing Challenge. She also does a great deal of editing and collaborates with me on a tween devotional project, and writes Christian fiction and non-fiction. Reading about her plethora of projects, one would think she’s a super-writer, capable of penning manuscripts in her sleep. So, when she talks about what she can’t do, I listen!

What I Can’t Do

By Joanne Sher

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NKJV

Christ is the one who strengthens me for my tasks. It is His power that allows me to accomplish great things for Him. Without Him, I can do nothing.

Then why can’t I, for instance, fly? Heal my husband physically? Travel at warp speed? Find gas for less than $2 a gallon? Write an exceptional, bestselling book in 24 hours? (Or even one month?)

Because God has not strengthened me for those particular tasks.

If I go out on my own and decide what I will accomplish this year – or this month, or this day – I may or may not succeed. Because God does not strengthen me for what I want. He strengthens me for what He wants.

You see, “all things” can be a bit misleading. It is only through Christ that I will be empowered – and He will not strengthen me for any old task. It is only those things that are in His will where He will work in my life this way.

So, perhaps, if you are not achieving “all things,” it is because He has not strengthened you for the task.

And if He has not strengthened you, you probably need to re-examine your goals, and your direction. Perhaps you are reaching for the wrong things. Maybe you can’t do it (whatever “it” may be) because you aren’t supposed to; because Christ wants to put His strength in you for another, more God-honoring task.

And who wants to work without His strength?

Joanne Sher was raised in Southern California but now lives in West Michigan with her wonderful husband Marc, and their two kids – Andrew is 10 and Annika is 7. She was raised in the Jewish faith, but has since become a follower of Christ.

She’s had assorted stories published in a handful of magazines and a few Christian writing anthologies. She’s currently working on a non-fiction book about God’s workings through her husband’s health issues. Tentatively titled Ailing Body, Nourished Soul, the first chapter received honorable mention in Fathwriters.com’s Page Turner First Chapter contest. At the moment, it is being considered by a literary agent.Her other work in progress is Handmaiden To A Princess, a Biblical fiction book set during the time of King Saul and centered around twins, one Princess Michal’s handmaiden and the other a servant to Prince Jonathan. It’s still in the writing stage.
Visit her website to find out more about her and her writing.