The path of uncompromising faith that leads to spiritual maturity and intimacy with our Beloved is full of surprises. Some are delightful, others, not so much. Our journey started with some much needed lessons in how to dance. Since we often liken our walk of faith like a dance this made perfect sense. Our teacher, Boris, was a former South African champion who faithfully taught us what we needed to know. God would work through Boris to anchor two important points about faith and maturity we would need going forward.
Emotional blocks and decision making
Like a bagel, Boris had a crusty outside, but a soft center. Gently, he taught about emotional blocks. We were perfectly capable of dancing, but these emotional blocks hindered us. My emotional block was fear of criticism. Once Boris taught me how to face that, I could continue dancing. This was difficult at first. I had to unlearn my childish responses and mature. In like manner, fear is a brick wall to faith. To overcome, we must face those obstacles and keep moving. This isn’t easy, but necessary.
The next lesson was ‘make a decision’. Dancing into a corner, unsure of my next move, Boris would yell ‘MAKE A DECISION!’. This was his signature. In ballroom dance you can’t stop moving or you will cause chaos on the floor. This is a cardinal rule you cannot violate; at least in front of Boris. I wanted to not make a mistake; but Boris didn’t care. He just wanted me to make a decision and keep moving. That lesson stayed with me. Growing up requires us to ‘make decisions’; not to delay or vacillate. God keeps moving, and we need to keep moving with Him.
Every dance lesson was tough. We worked and worked hard. For many hours. Slowly we improved and gained confidence. Boris, however, was tricking us. The Arthur Murray dance curriculum has three major levels; Gold, Silver, and Bronze. In each major level, are 4 minor levels. For each minor level, the student must master certain basic dance steps to pass. Dance steps are repeatedly practiced until they become ingrained in muscle memory. So our wonderful dance teacher was, without our knowledge, sneaking in moves from Bronze level 3; when we were at Bronze level 1. Boris gave us no quarter. When we didn’t get the steps just right, he let us have it. He made these difficult lessons, beyond our level, even tougher. Yet we still progressed and even excelled.
Those two lessons, facing emotional blocks and learning how to make decisions, were critical but the next lesson would bring us to our knees. When it came time for our test we would find out if we had really learned what the Holy Spirit wanted us to know.
The three judges sat at a little table to observe the students. These were world class judges who judge major dance competitions across the globe. The dance music started, and I led off on the wrong foot! We skipped a beat and then kept dancing. I couldn’t stop. Wanda and I made a few more mistakes before the song finished, and then the exam was over. Crestfallen by our errors, we packed our dance gear and left.
The afternoon was sunny and bright, but our hearts were dark and stormy. Emotionally spent from the dance test, we were tender and raw. The tears came in waves. Embarrassment of our perceived failure, bore down heavily on our feelings. With time, our grief turned to cynicism. In our limited understanding, we couldn’t believe they would pass us.
The day came for our next lesson. Somehow we mustered up the courage to return, regardless of the outcome. In the privacy of his office, Boris revealed the news we had passed. Incredulous, we challenged the results. Boris left to bring back the studio owner. The owner, Will, quietly explained how they adjudicate ballroom dance. At Arthur Murray, for each level, there are certain basic steps the student must demonstrate. The judges look for those steps; and nothing else. By forcing us to focus on much harder steps, Boris had secretly caused us to excel in the basics. As a team, we had passed with flying colors! This was astounding. This slight trickery by our much beloved dance teacher, over prepared us for the test ahead. We were a puddle after this revelation.
In the wilderness are mountains far taller than we think we can climb. God beckons us to keep moving and make decisions; even if we make mistakes. He purposely overprepares us, during our training, so we can handle what comes. By deliberately hardening us to difficulty, uncompromising faith becomes a part of our nature.
Today God will lead you. His moves are perfect and His hand steady. He is the frame and you are the picture. As He leads you into uncompromising faith rest in the knowledge that He has you firmly in His warm embrace. Let go of emotional blocks, make bold decisions for faith and trust the One who is holding you!
Homer and Wanda