It is marvelously exciting to see God at work in my life, though sometimes I’m a little slow to catch on. From my limited perspective, it appeared that sending me to Kenya to encourage my Christian sisters this spring was God’s present focus for me, and one that would provide plenty of practice in dependency on my Lord. So I sought to arrange my schedule into blocks of time for study and preparation. In addition to needing material for extended teaching time, I would be speaking through translators to people in a very different culture than mine. Knowing that being well-prepared makes adapting to changing circumstances much easier, I intended to apply myself diligently to preparation.
No sooner had I set my course, than the distractions started. Not the worthless, empty distractions that I was prepared to dispatch post haste, these were true ministry needs among friends, family, and the body of Christ. Clearly, I was not to ignore the needs of those closest to me for the sake of study time. After two months of interrupted study time, I was beginning to worry a little about having to depart for Kenya without adequate preparation, and every prayer request I made was focused on this issue. While stuck in traffic one morning my mind was suddenly flooded with the Scriptural foundation and direction for one of the Kenya messages. Speaking directly to the topic and congruent with the culture of the audience, it was perfect! God had obviously interrupted my impatience with the traffic jam and done in seconds what I could have spent hours searching out. Clearly, God was perfectly capable of managing my schedule and my study without adhering to my best-laid plans.
As I was thanking God for His provision, I remembered a specific request I had made of the Lord several months ago. I had read an article by Laura Riva on being a responsive follower while dancing. She wrote, “Being a light follow does not mean being disconnected – in fact, it means quite the opposite. It means that when led, your reaction is nearly instant without sacrificing quality or connection. It means that your responses are fast – but not ahead of the lead. You do not need force or strength to lead a light follow – you simply need to guide them. It means that their frame and attention is so sensitive that it feels like the lead is directly connected to their mind.”
What a magnificent picture the author painted of the delicate partnership between a skilled leader and a trusting, responsive follower. Learning to respond with quick sensitivity to one’s dance partner without anticipating his next move and taking over the lead is a highly valued skill and one not easily mastered. I clearly recall dance lessons that consisted exclusively of lead-follow practice, using only half of the normal connection to one’s partner, and just being led in an aimlessly meandering path around the floor. It seems like a lot of time and money to spend on such minutiae. Surely learning actual dance steps would be more useful. Would this exercise really make that much difference in one’s dancing? The answer is, unequivocally, yes! A dancer can lead a highly responsive follower successfully through steps the follower has never even learned. More crucial than the perfect execution of steps, is the ability to follow. The author’s beautiful description captivated my heart not just as a dancer, but as a Christian. Here was a brilliant illustration of the way I want to follow the Holy Spirit. And I prayed so earnestly that God would give me this kind of responsiveness to His leading.
Now, feeling torn between the desire to minister to family and friends in need and the desire to be fully prepared for ministry opportunities in Kenya, it dawned on me that my gracious heavenly Father was answering that prayer. All these apparent directional changes were just lead-follow practice! I could only shake my head and laugh at myself. Laughter soon gave way to deep gratitude that God was developing in me the very thing I had asked for. He had continued to thwart my efforts to lead until I surrendered to Him in desperate dependence. Now that we had arrived at that point, God’s faithfulness was evident, and relief flooded in. I no longer feel the need to tell Him what my study time should look like. Oh, I still schedule time on my calendar for due diligence. But I am learning to rejoice when God adds appointments to my well-laid plans. My days all belong to Him, anyway, and He is perfectly qualified to arrange them to fulfill His ultimate purpose. My infinitely wise Teacher can give me an entire outline in just a few minutes if that is His plan. I am free to enjoy being in the moment, responding in trust to whatever appointments He puts on my calendar today. Serving Him has gone from a stressful juggling act to a graceful waltz with my heavenly Father. Yes, Lord, I would love to dance.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21