What is it that so captivates our imaginations as the invitation to dance? As little girls this love of dancing seems to almost come instinctively as we twirl around in skirts or dresses that flow around us.
So many of us love pretending to be Cinderella in the arms of the prince in pretend play or perhaps Giselle in the more recent movie, Enchanted, as she swirls around the dance floor with Robert. For those of us who are older, the scene from The King and I, where Yul Brynner leads Deborah Kerr to the strains of the song “Shall We Dance?”
Yes, I love all of those scenes and the music as it swells to perfect waltz time. Certainly there are so many other dance steps, but none captures quite as much imagination as the waltz I think.
One of my favorite memories is a less famous dance scene. It happened a number of years ago at the reception of our son and daughter-in-law’s wedding. My parents were still alive then and our son had enjoyed a very special relationship with my mother, his grandma. I had lived with my parents when I was pregnant and my husband was serving overseas, so David was born when we lived there and that seemed to create an extra bond between them.
My mother had never danced in her life, but it wasn’t because she was against dancing. Growing up on a farm and later marrying a farmer meant her life was one more of work and simple pleasures at the end of a long day instead of a flowing dress and a dance tune. I know she must have loved dancing, however, because when they saw and occasional movie when they were sweethearts it often featured Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
So it was special indeed, when our son invited my mother to dance with him at his wedding reception. Despite never having been on the dance floor, she trusted him to lead her wherever she was supposed to go. It was a wondrous sight to me. It was a delight to also see my husband dancing with our daughter at her wedding reception a few years later.
Of all the music we may love or dance to, the design of dancing a waltz means we will be held in an embrace to do so. If we are in the arms of someone as the music swells and he takes our hand it will be easy for us to imagine ourselves in the grandest of settings no matter where we are dancing. We will also discover something. We must let him lead us. A waltz can never work or navigate across a floor when both people are trying to lead.
In his wonderful book, The Divine Embrace, by Ken Gire, he compares our relationship with Christ as one where He embraces us in a wondrous waltz. He asks the reader to imagine when it is like to have Him invite us to dance. The description is one worth sharing.
“Imagine yourself in a ballroom. Imagine that the Emperor, the Lord Jesus himself, has tapped your shoulder. Hear his voice as he speaks your name and asks you to dance. It is not a dance you have done before. You’re uncertain about it, maybe a little fearful—hesitant to participate. But take a chance; step out onto the dance floor. As the Emperor draws you near, look into his eyes. Place your palm in his. And follow his lead.”
What an incredible scene! He has whispered my name or yours and made an invitation that may terrify us and yet we cannot refuse. How we might wish to have had dance lessons!
The metaphor is a rich one because He does indeed desire to lead us and hold us close to Him.
I think if we can in that moment trust Him even as my mother did our son that snowy night 28 years ago and let Him lead us wherever He may choose, then our focus may be less on technique and more on delighting in Him as we look into His eyes. It is then we realize it is all about loving.
Ken Gire puts it this way:
“There are places he wants to take us on the dance floor, things he wants to show us, feelings he wants to share with us, words he wants to whisper in our ear. This is what the divine embrace is—an invitation to a more intimate relationship with Christ, one exhilarating, ennobling, uncertain step at a time.
We have a choice, you and I. And it’s a choice we make every day, throughout the day. The choice is this:
We can dance. Or we can sit it out.”
What will I choose each day?
What will you?
I pray we will learn the two things Ken Gire writes that he learned from the divine embrace.
“Perfect love really does cast out fear. And I would rather dance poorly with Jesus than sit perfectly with anyone else.”