Learning to Dance: Keeping in step with the Spirit

Jo Acharya | December 7, 2021

A female ballet dancer poses in the air with arms outstretched, mid-leap, holding the hand of her partner who is ready to catch her
Image by Vladislav83

Have you been watching Strictly Come Dancing? I’ve never got into it before – I thought that as someone with two left feet it wouldn’t interest me at all. But somehow this year I ended up watching the first episode and was immediately hooked. It’s joyous! The colours, the music, the costumes, the lights. I just love it. And the most fun part for me is seeing the journeys of those contestants who had no dance experience before appearing on the show. Some, like TV presenter AJ Odudu (my personal favourite), have excelled and shown themselves to have serious talent.

For BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker, dancing didn’t come as naturally. He said on the show that he was so uncomfortable in the beginning that he would have left through a fire exit if he could. He and his dance partner Nadiya scored totals of 24, 26 and 28 out of 40 while AJ and Kai soared to 35 in the week one. But each Saturday night, little by little, Dan and Nadiya’s scores increased. The judges praised him for each small improvement and it was clear that he was getting more confident, feeling more relaxed and having a great time. Practice didn’t make perfect, but it certainly made better.

Practising Christians

It’s easy to compare ourselves to other Christians. Everyone else is so good at following Jesus. Kindness seems to come naturally to him. She doesn’t get jealous like I do. I don’t read my Bible enough, I don’t pray enough. I’m just not cut out for this whole thing. It’s like I’m wearing someone else’s clothes.

You know what? In a sense, we are wearing someone else’s clothes. In Colossians 3:12, Paul tells his readers to clothe themselves with ‘compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience’. These qualities weren’t their natural state. Often, they are not ours either. These clothes don’t fit us very well at first. But as we put them on and practise wearing them each day, we find that we begin to grow into them.

It helps of course that like Dan Walker, we have an amazing teacher and helper. All the enthusiasm in the world wouldn’t have got Dan very far without her expert tuition. And we won’t get far without the Holy Spirit working in our lives. It’s a partnership, even a kind of dance. As we keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) and follow where he leads, we’ll find ourselves moving in ways we never could have imagined.

Guaranteed to succeed

Each weekend on Strictly ends in elimination for one contestant, and last Sunday was Dan’s last dance. Given such stiff competition many think he stayed far longer than he deserved to – perhaps he would agree! But imagine how good he might get if he kept working with Nadiya for another six months. And imagine how much more easily patience or generosity might come to you if you keep in step with the Spirit for another ten years. For you and me, there is no threat of elimination. God has promised that he will keep teaching us, moulding us and shaping us until his job is complete (Philippians 1:6).

In his final goodbye, Dan Walker said of his partner Nadiya, “I’m not a dancer, but she showed me I can dance.” Friends, we are not dancers. But with the Holy Spirit taking the lead, every one of us can dance.

If you found this article helpful, you might enjoy my book ‘Refresh’. It’s a beautiful devotional journal exploring God’s plan for living well in every area of life. The 52 short reflections are filled with Biblical wisdom and gentle encouragement for the everyday. Get a signed copy in our store, or pick it up on Amazon (affiliate link).

Advert for 'Refresh' by Jo Acharya, showing a pile of books and a quote from author Liz Carter: 'Refresh is a delight: gentle, honest and hopeful'
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