A few weeks back, I tried swing dancing for the first time. Instead of taking lessons, I went for a one-time crash course and then joined a friend at a community dance night. The organizers invited newbies to come early for some instruction. I felt like I was getting the hang of a few basic steps, but then the music started for real. No one limited themselves to the few basic steps I had learned.

I’ve never been quick at anything related to physical coordination, but I was determined to enjoy the experience. More than one of the men I danced with that night said (rather forcefully)—“Let me lead!” I was trying to. But I couldn’t tell what they were doing. And I sure didn’t know what I was doing.

The most fun I had all evening was with a man who led with assurance and strength. He was sure of himself and graciously taught me as we went along. I found myself relaxing, laughing, and enjoying the dance.

I thought of that night while pondering the last discussion I had with my counselor about the deep fears I have around the idea of dating and marriage. I don’t know if God has any plans along those lines for me—but I know my fear is not His plan. I want to let go of my fears and fully grasp that God can be trusted to guide me well. My problem? I can’t follow God’s lead while also trying to limit myself to a few “safe” dance steps. Letting go of my self-reliance is not easy.

While it was far from a dance floor, the idea of letting go of self-reliance reminds me of the summers I taught children to swim. If a child is afraid, he wants to stay where he can stand on the bottom—not lay back to float on the water. Learning to float feels scary, yet understanding how the water holds him up is essential to learning to swim. The fear is understandable. Water is not safe. But the risk of drowning goes down when a child learns to float and swim. When a child resists learning those skills, he is keeping himself in greater danger. And he’s missing out on a whole lot of fun. 

Fear keeps us confused as to where we are safe. Peter, one of Christ’s disciples, certainly got confused about that. The night Christ was arrested, Peter thought he would be safe by swearing he didn’t know Christ. But then Christ arose and later the Holy Spirit. Thanks to the power of God in his life, the Acts 2 version of Peter is radically different. He boldly identified with Jesus Christ and proclaimed the good news to all who would listen.

What we need is not guilt, despair, or regret over past fear. What we need has already been given if we are Christ-followers. “God gave us his Spirit. And the Spirit doesn’t make us weak and fearful. Instead, the Spirit gives us power and love. He helps us control ourselves.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIrV) 

Oh, Father. Many of us struggle with fear. Teach us to rely completely on Your Spirit and follow Your strong lead so we can relax, laugh, and enjoy every part of this dance with You.

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