One of my dreams is to be Justin Timberlake’s backup dancer. Seriously. I love me some JT. I’m especially smitten with his song “Don’t Hold the Wall.”
It’s about a guy inviting a girl to dance. He calls her from the comfort of a dark corner to the dance floor. Gripping the wall and its false sense of safety, she’s reluctant to follow at first. But finally, she steps forward, and before she knows it, she’s out under the lights, letting go, dancing her heart out.
At least that’s how I see the scene unfolding.
And the longer I’ve listened to this track, it’s taken on a new meaning, just for me. It’s unlikely the message Justin had in mind, yet I’m learning God can use anything — even pop song lyrics — to speak into our lives and spur us forward.
I grew up dancing and cheerleading, and I loved to be out there under the lights. I felt alive, like myself. But as I moved through college and most of my twenties, I began to shrink back, play it safe, and choose comfort.
This shift happened so slowly it was below my level of consciousness. I was living life in a safe lane, on a linear track, going through the motions.
Life is laid out for us thanks to our educational system. We always know what comes next … until there is no next next. The track stops, we earn our piece of paper, and then what?
I climbed my way through college and graduate school and then produced countless cover letters and applications in search of a “real job.” I thought that looked like working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at an office. So that’s what I did. (And there’s nothing wrong with that, by the way.)
But as time ticked on, I grew increasingly restless. I had a great job, related to my degrees, that I felt blessed to have. I had my own office with a window in a beautiful building.
Yet I couldn’t shake this droning discontent. I knew I wasn’t helping others and growing my gifts in the way I wanted. But dang, it was sure comfortable there in my cozy corner office! So I stayed. I simmered for months, praying for clarity and hoping for an epiphany.
Nothing changed … until I decided to move. To try something. And that’s what changed everything.
Starting a blog had been in the back of my mind for months, if not years, but guess what was stalling me? FEAR. I was afraid to step out there, into the light, exposed.
I re-read Jennie Allen’s book Anything around this time. In the first chapter she writes about a transformational conversation sparked by a big question: how does someone know God?
Jennie writes about her seminary professor’s response:
He began by listing all the ways we grow or know God: prayer, studying Scripture, church, worship, experiences, suffering, confession, community, and on and on. Then he said, “But obviously each of these is unpredictable … many people who study the Bible never find God. Many people who go to church never really know him. The only exercise that works 100 percent of the time to draw one close to the real God is risk.
Risk. There’s an uncomfortable word. And what I read next made me squirm and my heart burn.
Then he went on, “To risk is to willingly place your life in the hand of an unseen God and an unknown future, then to watch him come through. He starts to get real when you live like that.”
I knew I wanted to live like that but, man, it meant that I was going to have to do something about it. So I did one little thing that was on my heart, and it initiated a massive movement of God in my life.
After starting this blog and seeing God show up, it gave me the gumption I needed to say yes to the next opportunity that soon came knocking, one that required much more risk.
So here’s the lesson I’m learning:
God may be waiting on you to move. He may be calling you out, stirring your heart, but ultimately it’s up to you to do something about it. He won’t force it.
(I share this cautiously because I don’t want to send the wrong message. There is great wisdom in waiting on God. Trying to control or coerce something to change isn’t what I’m advocating.)
But if you’ve been praying and seeking and knocking and waiting, consider that maybe, just maybe, he’s already shared the next step. Are you listening? Deep down, do you already know?
I feared what would happen when I started sharing and growing my gifts. What will others think? Who am I to do that? I thought to myself.
Sharing who we are with the world can be downright scary. But the deal is that God gifts us for greater purposes. Yep. Your gifts are there not just for personal fulfillment but also to bless others and glorify God.
So keep seeking and listening to the Lord. Read his Word. Let him do the quiet, internal work. And then when he calls you out, don’t hold the wall.
Faith requires action, after all.
As you keep your focus on Me, I form you into the one I desire you to be. Your part is to yield to my creative work in you, neither resisting it nor trying to speed it up. Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting me set the pace. Hold my hand in childlike trust, and the way before you will open up step by step.Excerpt from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
I love that line: Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life.
That’s my hope and prayer for you and me as we welcome 2019. May it be your most faith-filled and adventurous year yet!
Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash