light in the darkness

I have most recently began practicing yoga again after taking a season off. I will most certainly say that yoga has been a lifesaver for me. I never actually realized how good it was for my emotional and physical well being until I get into child’s pose and come to center on my mat. For those of you yogis out there, you know exactly what I am talking about. For those of you who don’t practice yoga, there is a phrase I go by:  “Because you can, you should.”

Anyways, back to sharing my most recent yoga practice experience with you.

I come into class and the instructor asked each of us to set an intention for our practice. This intention can be a word, phrase, or sometimes for me, a verse. I chose the word “endurance”. These intentions really motivate you when your practice gets harder throughout the session. I found this word, more often than not, come into my thoughts as I was struggling to hold certain poses, and yes, even falling down during one of them because I had zero ability to balance on one leg. Go ahead and laugh. I did.

I got back up and kept going. My favorite part is when I am able to stretch and breathe deeper when holding each pose. I truly felt like an amateur as I have been out of the game for quite a bit of time and have lost all flexibility and strength, especially when I look around and people are flying their crows and posing in a half moon for lengthy periods of time (sorry-yoga jargon). Of course as I immediately start to compare my practice to the experienced yogis around me, I constantly catch my thoughts and bring them back to the fact that today, I have decided to at least show up to class.

As my practice concluded, I laid on my back with both arms stretched out to the side, palms up. I arranged my body so that all my muscles were 100% relaxed. The instructor dimmed the lights, and provided time for us to conclude our practice with quiet meditation. I LOVE the fact that when I laid there, I felt time was actually on my side in that moment, and it wasn’t against me, creating stress and major “rush” in my life. Time actually forced me to lay there, to be still before Father, and listen to what He had to say to me in that moment.  Anytime I sit in carved out quiet time, Father never ceases to stop talking to me. Recently, I heard on a podcast that “God is always talking to us, we just don’t take the time to listen or recognize his voice”. So there I laid. Centering myself on the mat.

I opened my eyes, even though I probably shouldn’t have because that wasn’t fully relaxing myself. My eyes became fixated on the light above me. My eyes soon adjusted to the light, similar to when I was a little girl seeing how long I could stare at the sun on a hot summer day. I know, so stupid. When I was no longer squinting at the light, my eyes scanned the other parts of the ceiling, unable to see as my eyes were slowly adjusting back to the darkness. It took a good portion of time for my eyes to not see spots from the light as I scanned the ceiling and other areas of the room.

That’s when He spoke to me.

“Do you see me? I am everywhere. You need to stay CLOSE to me to begin seeing more of me.”

When my eyes trickled away from the light, I was able to see the light for a short time frame after, and eventually, my eyes adjusted back to the darkness.

I feel that is exactly how it is with our walk with Father. It’s only human for our eyes to be able to see in the darkness; however, when we spend significant time with Father, our Beloved, we become so deeply rooted and fixated on Him, our light, that we are unable to see the darkness around us. As long as we are on Earth, living out our day-to-day routines, we will experience the weight of sin in this world. Maybe your darkness is your character is being ripped to shreds that you worked so hard to keep and maintain. Maybe your darkness is your job where you have given away your boundaries and allowed your boss and coworkers to walk all over you. Maybe your darkness is rejection from a dating relationship. Maybe your darkness is struggling through school, wondering if you chose the right program that will determine the course of your life. Maybe your darkness is going off birth control for months, even years, and still not being able to get pregnant. Maybe your darkness is your spouse is choosing pornography or another’s love over you. Maybe your darkness is unresolved conflict and hurt in the relationship with your earthly father. Maybe your darkness is fear of the unknown and what your “next steps” will be.

No matter what your “dark cloud” is, God is talking with you and wanting you to stay close to Him. He wants you to come sit with Him in the quiet, free of the distractions of this world. He wants more than anything for your eyes to be fixated on HIS eyes, and His presence only, so that when you go about your day, you see the Light’s spots everywhere you look. 

When our eyes are on the Light, the Light is all we’ll see.

Psalm 139:7-12

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day Darkness and light are alike to You.”

I asked myself these couple questions after the yoga session that day:

  • What am I currently allowing in my life that is preventing me from staying close and spending time with Father?
  • What am I actively doing to pursue my relationship with Father, first and foremost?
  • How am I combatting lies of the enemy, and not allowing these lies to be a stronghold in my thoughts and life?

Please give me some feedback and/or future topics you would like me to touch on. Thanks for taking the time to read this today!

Remember how much He loves you today,

Janelle

your house.

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“We walk into houses that are not ours. Then, when the concrete shifts, that house of cards tumbles to the ground. But God. God rebuilds a house. This  house has your name on it, and He awaits you walking through the front door and owning the process. Owning what He has built for you.”   Cheryl Wood

 Life is given to us by God. It is a gift and is very precious. However, when going through trials of various kinds, our hearts only yearn that much more for the King’s return. In the meantime, He is asking for our whole – every aspect of what makes us who we are. He desires that we accept His sanctifying of our whole completely –spirit, soul and body. (2 Thess. 5:23) God is preforming a work in us and will preform it until Christ returns. I believe there is a reason God specifically ordered those three aspects of life in a human and how it relates to cultivating and experiencing true joy amidst a trial.

First up is the spirit. This is the absolute core of who we are. In Genesis 2:7, it states that, “[God] breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” He created us with five different senses which enabled us to interact fully with the intricately created world around us. Second up is the soul (and mind) where we are able to manage our emotions and our thinking patterns. Last up is the body and taking care of what we have been given which includes the following: choosing to be physically active, eating well, obtaining enough rest, and being free of any addictions.

This past weekend, He gave me the gracious gift of going away to a cabin in Asheville, NC for a short trip with some of my dearest sisters in Christ. This was a refreshing time away from all the busy and stress that life throws at us. We were able to completely remove ourselves from situations back home and just focus on each other, His beautiful handiwork, but most importantly, resting and being still in His presence. I am sure God was smiling down on us as we were like kids in a candy shop as we saw His glory manifest in front of us.

A specific experience that stood out to me from the trip was when we all hiked up the mountain to the lookout at the top. There were five of us girls and we all had different stopping points so we could catch our breath, especially being at a higher elevation. We would then wait on and with each other, converse, laugh, trip and fall, and even help each other through different parts of the hike. All that to say, we FINALLY made it to the top and BOY was it worth it. This got me thinking about life (of course). It is a process. Sanctification is a process. But God, being our Father knows what is best for us, and He is changing us from the inside out –spirit, soul, and body. He is not just telling us to fend for ourselves when we are in the middle of a crisis. He is actually so good that He provides strength through His people around us. On a human level, it is so easy to tell someone who is in a difficult circumstance to change, move or “hike” faster because we see what is better. But God knows what is BEST for us and that means that we need to appreciate the sanctification process he is bringing us through and enjoy every little aspect along the way so that we learn more about the rhythm of His heart. He begins changing our spirit, then our soul, and will indefinitely be displayed through our physical actions of how we take care of ourselves and live God out loud.

He has created us in His image and will continue chipping away on us what does not look like Himself. That is a process and it requires patience. Remember to stop living in someone’s house. Rather, walk through the front door of the house that God has designed FOR YOU. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Patiently wait for God to genuinely change you from the inside out. Choose joy for yourself.

Romans 8:24-25 “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

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(Pictures taken in Asheville, NC.)

Resources:
Blue Letter Bible Commentary