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My husband and I recently started taking ballroom dancing classes.  Ballroom dancing isn’t like the modern dancing that you might do at a club or a wedding.  It is very structured.  There are rules, specific steps, and techniques.  And there is a leader.  One person, typically the man, leads.  When a song is played, he decides the type of dance the couple will do, the speed of their steps, when the lady will turn, etc.  And the woman follows.  I have to admit, the following part is hard for me!  But those are the rules.

Sometimes when my husband and I practice, in order to be a better follower, I close my eyes.  Without distractions, I more easily can sense where he is moving me.   Closing my eyes allows me to follow blindly, as it were.

Our walk with God is a lot like ballroom dancing.  We have to learn to follow.  And sometimes we have to follow blindly.  At times, God will ask us to do something that doesn’t make logical sense.  However, if we simply follow His lead, He will do amazing things in our lives.

For instance, a number of years ago, I was living in the Middle East.  I was writing, taking care of my daughter, and trying to adjust to life in a world that is very different from ours in the U.S.  One day, out of the blue, my daughter’s teacher asked me if I would apply to be the school librarian.  On the face of it, her request made no sense.  I didn’t have a degree in library science, and I didn’t have a background in early childhood education.  I simply had a love of books.

However, by that time in my life, I’d learned that when God opens a door, it is a good idea to go through it.  So I applied and got the position.  It was one of the best jobs that I ever had.  For 9 months, I was a cheerleader for children’s literature.  I worked hard to get everyone in the school as excited about books as I was.  And some of the kids actually got excited too.  By the middle of the year, one of the mothers told me, “My son never was interested in reading, but thanks to your library classes, he has been begging me for everything written by Roald Dahl.”  In the end, an opportunity that made zero sense to me turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.

I’ve had countless situations like that.  Many times my life has taken an unpredictable course, and I’ve had to follow God’s lead blindly.  On each occasion, I’ve scratched my head and thought, “Why on earth am I here?”  But when I look back, I can see how all those experiences fit together.  And following God’s lead always has worked for my benefit.

We all struggle when it comes to following.  We live in a society that glorifies leaders and perceives following as weakness.  Our teachers rate our kids on whether they show “leadership skills” in school.  Our political leaders garner all the media’s attention (even though there are smarter folks out there who we really should be listening to).  And if you’ve ever attended a business meeting, you know that the leaders (managers) suck up all the air in the room.  We all aspire to be leaders, and no one is comfortable following.  But in our relationship with God, the ability to follow is the name of the game.

Following God involves letting go of the delusion that we know what is best.  God knows better than we do how to mold our characters.  As a result, sometimes God will present us with opportunities that we aren’t interested in.   However, they may be just what we need in order to mature.  And God may close doors because He knows those paths won’t benefit us.

Following God’s lead also requires trust.  When we follow God, we have to trust that He can use our most challenging problems for our benefit.  For example, during the recession, I was laid off from my job.  To be honest, I should have left the job a year before.  God had been prompting me to use my talents elsewhere, but I was unwilling to follow His lead.  I was too scared to give up the security of the position.  Moreover, I didn’t want to leave my colleagues, whom I really cared about.  So at the end of the day, the decision was made for me.  It was a very difficult experience.  However, when I look back, I can see that God ultimately used the experience to help me.  When I lost my job, I became more humble.  I also learned that I had more courage than I ever realized.  And ultimately, new and better opportunities came my way.

It isn’t easy to follow God.  It isn’t easy to trust that He will take care of us when all the “facts” indicate otherwise.  But when we follow God’s lead, and when we do so with a joyful heart, amazing things can happen.  Our life will go on a path that we never could have predicted.  And it will be a far more interesting, rich and blessed life than we ever could have created on our own.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

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