Follow His Lead
By Jeanne Gowen Dennis
Follow His lead. We’re often told to follow Jesus, because He will lead us where we need to go. But how do we follow Jesus?
I’ve learned a lot about what it means to follow Jesus from ballroom dancing with my husband, Steve.
Learning to Follow
You see, in ballroom dancing, as in most things, only one person can lead. In our case, that job falls to Steve.
So my job becomes threefold:
- Focus on Steve.
- Trust and follow his cues.
- Enjoy the dance and the time with him.
That means I must not second-guess what he’s planning to do. I can’t decide when we’ll do a specific move or change direction.
I have to trust Steve to know where he’s taking me, even if it’s not exactly where I’d prefer to go.
I also have to trust that he’s not going to back me into another couple, a pole, or a wall.
Leads in ballroom dancing can be extremely subtle. Steve may turn his torso slightly, twist his fingers, or aim a foot in a different direction.
Those signals tell me what he expects me to do. I don’t see his cues; I feel them.
After a lot of practice, the signals are easy to read and my muscles develop a sort of memory of what to do.
However, when we haven’t danced for a while, I sometimes get lost. Steve might step on my foot because I’m not paying attention.
I might miss a cue and go the wrong direction. I could even throw off our balance by turning my head or body at the wrong time.
When any of these happen we stop, regroup, and start again.
How is following Jesus like ballroom dancing?
- I have to focus on Him.
- I have to trust and follow His cues.
- I can enjoy the dance of life as I live it with Him.
As in dancing, second-guessing Jesus could lead me in the wrong direction. If I do miss a signal and go the wrong way, I stop, ask His forgiveness, and start again.
Letting God lead actually frees me to leave the decisions to Him. With Jesus in control, I can focus on Him instead of worrying about what to do.
Focus on Him
To focus on Jesus, I need to spend time every day in His Word and in prayer.
While reading the Bible, I grow in understanding of who He is and what He requires of those who follow Him.
When I spend time in prayer, He and I communicate. As I pray for the needs of others, He teaches me His compassion.
Sometimes I will pray through a Scripture passage, applying it to current circumstances. I essentially talk with God while using His own words.
This focus on Jesus helps me learn to follow where He leads.
Follow His Lead
How do I recognize where Jesus is leading? Often something in the Bible will pop out at me, letting me know His will.
Other times I will “hear” His still, small voice inside, directing me to do or not do something.
Something preached in a sermon could stir me. A brother or sister in Christ might remind me of some truth to correct or encourage me.
Even circumstances can provide direction, as when God closes one opportunity and opens another.
But most often, the Holy Spirit’s leading is subtle. As long as I stay in close fellowship with Him, I simply know what I’m to do or where I’m to go.
Just as in ballroom dancing, this subtle knowing comes with practice. The more I obey God’s leading, the better I become at recognizing it.
Following Jesus takes the pressure off. I can trust in His wisdom and strength instead of my own.
Although I must trust Jesus in order to follow Him, at times, trusting is tough.
- He might ask me to speak up when it could cause others to reject me and everything I believe.
- I might have to stand for truth when others champion lies.
- He might even ask me to give my life to save others.
Following Jesus requires me to humble myself, to acknowledge His holiness, omnipotence (unlimited power), and unfailing love. It requires total trust.
As a naturally prideful and selfish woman, I often fail in that kind of trust. But Jesus doesn’t ask me to do anything He hasn’t already done.
Though He is God, Jesus humbled Himself in obedience to His Father to become a man (Phil. 2:8). His commitment to His Father’s will took Him all the way to the cross – for me and you (Luke 22:41–42).
Difficult as it might be, I have found trusting Jesus gives me more freedom to enjoy Him and my life.
Enjoy Him and the Dance
Many songs talk about falling in love while dancing. I fell in love with Jesus because He first loved me, sought me out, and paid for my sins on the cross.
“Dancing” through life with Jesus makes my love grow deeper as I get to know Him better. Nothing brings me more joy than staying close beside Jesus and following His lead.
The profound joy He provides when I spend time with Him and obey Him is worth everything to me.
So with all my heart, I commit to dance my life with Jesus. In His strength, I choose to follow wherever He leads.
What about you?
© Jeanne Gowen Dennis