14 October 2023

Keep in step

Ivan Radford

A photo of Angela Rippon CBE and Kai Widdrington dancing on Strictly Come Dancing | Picture: BBC/Guy Levy
Angela Rippon CBE and Kai Widdrington | Picture: BBC/Guy Levy

With Strictly Come Dancing back on BBC One, Ivan Radford asks who’s taking the lead in your life.

Do you know your quickstep from your rumba? Your tango from your foxtrot? Your samba from your paso doble? If you do, you’re likely among the millions of people swooping across the living room to pick up the TV remote on Saturday nights to watch Strictly Come Dancing. Now in its 21st season, the heavily sequinned series has been partnering celebrities with professional dancers to see who can impress with their footwork since 2004.

The current season has included everyone from TV presenter Les Dennis and national treasure Angela Rippon to Channel 4 News anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Paralympic cyclist and swimmer Jody Cundy. Over the years, its diverse line-up of contestants has proven that anyone, regardless of age, background, disability or life experience, can find a place in the Strictly ballroom – and, at the same time, it has united them in recognising that, regardless of age, background, disability or life experience, dancing to a professional level can be really, really difficult. Each contestant is reassured, however, that – no matter how complicated the dance – they’re not going through it alone. As the title of Strictly’s sister TV show reminds them, It Takes Two.

In one of the early episodes of this season, Krishnan was called out by the judges for not taking the lead in a dance and instead following his partner, Lauren Oakley. So often in life, though, we can be guilty of doing the opposite: taking the lead and waltzing off by ourselves without thinking about it.

Proverbs reminds us repeatedly to be mindful of our feet and where we put them: ‘We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps’ (Proverbs 16:9 New Living Translation). If we try and determine our steps on our own, we just end up stumbling down a crooked path.

A better starting point is remembering who we have as a dance partner to begin with and having faith that he’s got the choreography sorted: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight’ (Proverbs 3:5 and 6).

But the beautiful thing about living in tandem with the Lord is that it’s not about merely following in his footsteps, or obeying directions in isolation: it’s an invitation to journey with him, not only on Saturday nights but continuously. He’s with us at all times, to guide our steps, to correct us when we put a foot wrong, and to carry us through the tricky passages when we can’t see a way forward.

It’s a partnership that calls for trust to step out on to the dancefloor and follow him, but it can only work – and we can only succeed in reflecting God’s love to everyone around us – if we continue to follow him with every step we take. As song 986 in the Army songbook says: ‘You will find each day your pathway easy/ If you keep in step all the time.’ Are you keeping in step with the Lord? Are you letting him take the lead?

Reflect and respond

  • How close is your walk – or waltz – with Jesus at the moment?
  • At the start of every morning this week, pray for God to take the lead in your day.

Written by

A photo of Ivan Radford.

Ivan Radford

Managing Editor

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