A gorgeous summer day. A beautiful, quiet, city park. A soft, green lawn. An impromptu salsa lesson. Same said summer day turned stormy. A crowded highway booming with thunder and pelted with rain. A majestic rainbow. A tricky drive home. A lesson learned.
I spent Saturday exploring downtown Greenville and catching up with a friend. The day started out gorgeously. The sun shone marvelously and relentlessly on us as we walked from place to place. Occasionally a breeze would gently wisp through cooling us off. It was simply perfect. Our wanderings brought us to a small park in the city center.
Three large buildings made a shady perimeter around a green lawn constructed of Astro-turf, dubbing for an ice skating rink in the winter. Along the right wall a fountain cascaded and the dripping water echoed in sync with small children’s shouts of shrill delight as they played in it. A little oasis amidst the bustle of the city. For us it would serve as a dance floor.
My friend has become quite the salsa dancing extraordinaire in the past few years. It seems to be both a passion and a delight for him. He beams when he speaks of it, and rightfully so, he’s excellent at it. Needless to say, I was definitely interested in learning more about this which brings him such joy. So right there, smack dab in the middle of the park, I received my first salsa lesson.
And, how’d that go? Bless his soul. He was extremely patient as I fumbled through the footwork, tangled the turns, and hampered the holds. Despite my clumsiness, we laughed our way through and had a ball [or at least, I had a ball.] He taught me a few different [extremely basic, again, bless him] forms of salsa. One in particular struck a chord in me.
In the LA Style of salsa you dance in a lane. It is a compilation of eight different steps all done in a single lane or line of activity. Whenever there is a turn, you always come back to your lane. The lead guides with subtle movements of his hand and on specific counts. For the dance to work effectively or [for the sake of being too technical] the dance to flow fluidly and beautifully, the lady must trust the lead. In this style, the lead will always come back to the lane.
Hold that thought for a moment.
As my friend and I parted ways later that afternoon, we were caught in a boisterous storm. Lightning cracked. Thunder bellowed. And the rain, my goodness. It fell like driving sheets of bullets. The roads were white with rain. I could see no more than five feet in front of me. Quite different from my drive in where the sun was shining, the roads were clear, and the number on my speedometer, may or may not have been higher than the corresponding number on the speed limit signs, this return ride contained a bit more danger. I had to remain in my lane.
Rather than changing lanes and overcoming slower vehicles in front of me, I took security in staying safely behind the car in front of me. The storm kept me from seeing the road before me, but if I could just keep my eyes on the one going before me, I would be safe.
Eventually, I drove beyond the band of the storm. The pelting rain dwindled to droplets. The clouds gave way to sun. I peered into my rear view mirror back at the storm, only to catch a glimpse of something greater. The widest, most vivid, most brilliantly majestic rainbow I have ever seen. Any chance I had I stole a glance back. Again, something stuck with me about that rainbow and the storm.
In the past few years, I have been praying the Lord give me one specific thing that would serve as the theme of our journey together that year. This year I am learning to slow to the pace of surrender. By far, not an easy lesson to learn.
My heart is full of so many desires, longings, questions, dreams, fears, and even doubts. I wonder when things will happen, if they will happen, how they will happen, who will they happen with. My heart becomes battered beneath all the wondering. Here is where I must slow to surrender. Stop long enough to loosen my already feeble grip on the reigns of control, and place them back in the hands of God.
Yesterday’s events taught me more about surrender.
Driving through that storm was quite reminiscent of the season I am in. The road before me often seems clouded and unknowable. I cannot make out where I am going next or what I will be doing in the future, or simply who will be there doing life with me. Therefore, for now, I need stay in my lane. My only certainty is the One who goes before me. Isaiah 30:21 says:
“Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.”
Also in Psalm 139:5 David declares,
“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”
Or in the New Living Translation,
“You go before me, and follow me. You place your hand of blessing upon my head.”
When I set my gaze upon Him, He will guide me, safely, to where I need to be, when I need to be there, and who I may be there with. When it is time, He will lead me to switch lanes. I do not need to speed up my journey. Here in the limited visibility, I will trust the One who goes before me. I will cling to that covenant rainbow. I will trust my Lead.
More than a seemingly stormy journey, my walk with the Lord is like that dance. Through every turn, after every dip, my perfect Lead will always bring me back to the lane. My responsibility–my joy– is to trust his lead and never break hold. As I heed to his lead, the dance becomes something beautiful and inviting. Something simply delightful.
Surrender is not intended to be easy. It entails a death to self. But in the end, through the rendering of control to the Lead, as the beauty that is the dance unfolds, it is worth it. When I slowly caught on to a particular step as my friend and I danced, he’d smile and exclaim “Eso!” meaning “That’s it” or “You’ve got it.” How much more would it mean to see the beaming grin and hear the jubilant laugh as we give way to our Heavenly Lead, as he declares “Eso!” over the dance of our lives.
Stay in your lane. Trust your Lead. Don’t miss the rainbow.
Brave Heart and Beloved, He who promised is faithful…still.