Letting Jesus Lead
By Catherine Martin
He sat at Jacob’s Well in Samaria, weary from a long journey. He waited patiently, knowing that she would soon arrive. A young woman, an empty water jar balanced on her shoulder, was making her way along the dusty road toward the well. He intended to reach out to this searching, thirsty woman, engage her in the dance of her life, and offer her supernatural water she could never find at the bottom of Jacob’s Well. For this man was Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, and He had to come to Samaria specifically to meet a lost, hurting woman who needed His living water springing up within her to give eternal life.
I understand this Samaritan woman, for I, too, was once lost and desperately thirsty. But Jesus sought me out at the end of my third year in college, and I heard Him whisper, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6). He reached out to me with great force and purpose with His words, “Follow Me”, and invited me to an unparalleled adventure of knowing Him (Matthew 4:19). I simply couldn’t resist His overture to dance. I said, “Yes, I will dance with You”, leaned in to His embrace, and we began a dance that has now lasted more than thirty years.
As we dance with Him, so our heart dances, too. We learn to trust, love, pray, endure, hope, and grow. These qualities teach us more about the dance, enabling us to follow the Lord’s lead through more demanding steps and movements. The movements tell the stories He is writing in the chapters of our lives. And so, the question for us each day is, “Will you dance with Him?”
Sometimes, even the most dedicated followers of Jesus can forget the main focus in their lives with Christ. We can easily get caught up in the ministry and lose sight of the Master. How can we avoid the pitfalls of ministry burnout? What will keep us close to Jesus, following His lead, and watching Him powerfully work in our lives and ministries? How can we experience heart revival in the midst of faithfully serving our Lord? Very simply, remember the dance. You are a dancer and you are designed to dance with the Lord, your eternal Dance Partner. We need to be like David, the man after God’s own heart, who danced before the Lord with all his might. With a heart that truly danced, moment by moment, David said, “I will celebrate before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:21). David habitually ran into the presence of God, and his dance resulted in amazing ministry experiences including killing a giant and becoming a king.
Jesus became my focus. And an exciting adventure in ministry has been the amazing result of our dance together.
I like to think of ministry as “Jesus Christ in action.” Ministry is not what we do for the Lord, but what He does in and through us. The most important part of any ministry is not slick training or fancy programs, but staying close to Jesus so we can dance. When you dance with Him, you will see God accomplish more than all you can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). You will bear much fruit, as Jesus promised to those disciples who remain in Him (John 15:5).
Here is what I’ve learned after many years of dancing with the Lord. A woman with a heart that dances has a heart of devotion to God and prioritizes her time alone with Him. Your quiet time alone with God is at the heart of your dance with Him. In your quiet time, you engage in the most precious parts of your dance—communion, prayer, contemplation of what God says in His Word, surrender, resolve, and commitment. Every time you grab your Bible, imagine His standing invitation to dance with Him all across the pages of His Word. Every day is a new adventure, for God speaks His Word with purpose into your life (see Isaiah 55:10-11).
Yet a challenge in the dance may be surrendering to the Lord in difficult days – or months or even years. I had been in a dark night of the soul for a number of years beginning with a move from San Diego to the Palm Springs area. My husband and I had experienced leaving our friends, our church, and the house we loved, changing our professions, and starting a new life. I struggled against the Lord’s lead as we danced. Against this backdrop of weariness and fatigue, I heard a distressed voice on the other end of the phone line one morning when I tried to call my mother. The voice was not my mother’s, but her neighbor’s, crying and telling me my mother had fallen and was being rushed to the hospital by paramedics. As I cared for my mother’s neck fracture, I began a long journey to the dark side of suffering. I struggled with feelings of desperation, depression, and loneliness.
One morning before going to the hospital, I sat alone having breakfast with the Lord, my Bible opened to the psalms. “Be still and know that I am God,” I read in Psalm 46:10. Without embarrassment in this small café, tears streaming down my face, I cried out loud, “How can I do this Lord?” And then I heard those words deep within my heart, “Remember Catherine, your life is a dance with Me. Even in this situation, we can dance. Lean in closer, and follow My lead. Then, we will truly dance.” Would I dance with Him? Even in this? And my response out loud was, “Yes Lord, even in this difficult day, I will dance with you.”
This is when I began to understand the great value of devotion to the dance and how it leads me to surrender. I renewed my commitment to my quiet time with Him, and set aside a time, a place, and a plan. Amazingly, in those difficult days, I experienced an uplifting, heart-strengthening joy in my dance with Jesus.
You will experience a special joy when you dance with the one you love. Spend some quiet time with the Lord today, lean in closely to His embrace, surrender to His love, and follow His lead. So today, wherever you are, whatever you are facing in life, ask yourself this question: “Will you dance with Him?