(picture taken in Guangzhou, China, 2008)
This week I have learned to “present my body” (Rom. 12) in some unorthodox ways, but it has lead to some orthodox thoughts – and a refreshing reminder of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
So, a few weeks ago a friend of mine called and invited me to a hot yoga class. This new studio had opened up in town and was doing a deal 10 classes for $10. You really can’t beat that price AND since I have been SO cold this winter, I thought that it would be worth $10 just to be in a hot room for an hour. This last week I went twice to hot yoga and though I don’t subscribe to yogic-spirituality, it has taught me some things about abiding and presenting my body.
During the hot yoga class, the room is heated to 110 degrees. At first, it feels so good – coming in from the cold outside, my freezing toes finally thaw and turn toasty. However, once we begin to go through the postures, I begin to feel the discomfort of the heat and the enormous amount of sweat dripping off my body.
The class progresses as we move our bodies into a posture and then HOLD IT. At this point, all my faculties are engaged – my body needs to hold still, my mind needs to focus and my will needs to dig in. We only hold the posture for one minute, but during that time it seems as though the clock goes into slow motion.
As I stood in one of the postures the other day, the Lord entered into my thoughts and said three words, “Abide in Me”. I realized that up until this point, I wanted “abiding” to be easy, soft and angelic with warm Hollywood lighting and a nice deep sigh (and maybe some tranquil music playing in the background?). But here I stood in a far more of what, for me, is an abiding stance – shaking, sweating, trying to focus and not fall over, in the heat of the moment with no relief in sight. It was as if God said, “Tara, sometimes abiding means that you present your body and remain in that presentation whether it feels good or not. Just stay! Remain though you are enticed by the sensation to flee or quit.”
Then, on Saturday night, I went to church and realized I had no feeling of worship or desire to be there. But once again God entered my thought process and took me bck to the class earlier this week. He showed me that standing in the sanctuary is the same lesson as in the yoga studio. “Present your body, Tara. Take up the postures and remain.” (However, this time my reason for doing it was far greater. It wasn’t about exercise, it was about His Worthiness.) Once again, all my faculties were employed – my body in standing, my mind on the words I was singing, and my will to choose God and not my sensations/feelings. I learned to remain – to abide – and not run to anything else.
I am not sure what sort of training this is or what it will lead to, but I know that I am supposed to “present my body” and “remain”. I am not being given any feelings or spiritual experience, only a training of my focus and will beginning with getting my body into the space of obedience.