People come to yoga for various reasons and from diverse walks of life. Those who stay muddle through the poses, stretching and straining as they struggle to learn the purpose and proper positioning. Those who stay, infinitely lean towards enlightenment, a place of perfection they are comfortable never achieving. With each practice, internal doors are opened and pathways of knowledge are illuminated. Truths that have always existed are revealed. Intrinsic connections are made that strengthen the being and allows the yogi to share with and embrace those around him. The biblical corollary 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “17 When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!” (TLB)
I have practiced yoga off and on for several years. In the past when I practiced regularly, I could move into and out of most beginner and intermediate poses with ease. Then, life happened and I stopped practicing. Because I am a former martial artist, the semantics of yoga are not foreign. For instance, warrior II is easily translated as a modified front stance; warrior I is a slow and exaggerated pre-position in a kata before grabbing your opponent’s head and driving your knee into his mid-section; etc. What I have learned this go-round from my return to the mat is that the physical part of the poses is a miniscule part of what yoga is about. One cannot begin to grow until an internal transformation has occurred. The yogi becoming the pose, instead of striking the pose, is the proof that understanding is occurring. In those moments, the yogi extends beyond himself and emits an energy strong enough to inspire and support those around him. His multi-sensory experience releases shackled ideas and unleashes creativity. With a discharged ego, he takes his learning to the next level.
It is inspiring and encouraging to watch the courageous yogi make her umpteenth attempt at a headstand. Having been on the mat next to her for a while, I have seen and felt her progression. I saw her when she started. At 40 pounds overweight, she couldn’t get her feet a foot off the ground. One year later, she could kick off the ground, touch her heals to the wall, immediately boomerang back to the balls of her feet and then fall forward onto her knees. Two decades later, she stands with her feet hip-width apart, bends forward at the knees and waist, and places her forearms on the floor in front of her. Slowly and methodically, she shifts most of her weight onto her forearms, with only a small portion of her load remaining on the balls of her feet. One foot takes to the air as the same leg levitates into a vertical position with the other following to join. With grace and a radiant positive energy, she enters into and maintains a headstand. She is the pose! When enough time has expired, she slowly bends at the waist and knees, allowing her legs to gently descend as though gravity’s power cord has been cut. Her feet delicately arrive on the floor as if the ground were made of rose petals. The sensory awakening one enjoys on a spring stroll through a flower garden is the same pleasure she encountered.
Christians are very similar to yogis. We are a very diverse and eclectic group. There are many times we are called to do things that prepare us for our future. Many times we ignore the call. Other times we answer it, only to be distracted by something else that causes us to quit. I have been called into a relationship with God many times. At times I have ignored the call. Other times I have gone through the motions of going to church services that didn’t speak to me and reading a bible I didn’t understand. I would meet with a congregation for three to six months and then other areas of my life would beckon my attention. A year later, I would try it again – only to be overcome by other events.
Verse 18 continues with, “18 All these new things are from God who brought us back to himself through what Christ Jesus did.” When I moved into my house, my next door neighbor invited me to go to church with her. I declined because I already had plans to travel to Delaware to enjoy the sunrise over the ocean and the weekend at the beach. The day before the beach excursion, one of people whom I was to accompany uninvited me by calling me to tell me that I shouldn’t come because she didn’t think the trip would be child friendly. She said I could come if I wanted to find a babysitter and leave my child behind. I knew the babysitter statement was sheer rhetoric as everyone who knew me also knew that with the exception of work, my child and I were two pieces of an inseparable package.
Feeling hurt, abandoned, and confused, I went back to my neighbor and asked her if it was too late to go to church with her the upcoming weekend? She said, “Of course not. We are delighted to have you.” My neighbor drove us to an outdoor service that was held on the banks of the Rappahannock River. The message spoke to me and led me to establish a lasting relationship with God. When someone rescinded my invitation to the ocean, it opened the door to a lifetime membership to the river of life.
Verse 19 says, “And God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into his favor and be reconciled to him. 19 For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men’s sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.” We are constantly called to bring his children to Him. To do so, we must invite people, embrace people, love people, pray for and with people, walk with people and most importantly, share our lives with people. His son shared his life, gave it up, and returned as proof that he defeated death to give us a new birth.
For those who still question, the answer is simple: The bible is a love story of an amazing Father seeking the presence of lost children He wants to adopt to give them the unconditional love they are desperately in search of. He even sent his only begotten son to seek and save them. It explains, through story after story, how He pursues the children and keeps a watchful eye as they drift in and out of His presence like the cyclical tide because they are constantly pulled away by distractions. Their ways cause them to wonder and stumble as they ignore His guidance in favor of following their own path. Eventually, there is an awakening for some that causes them to listen to Him. Their stillness allows the truth that has always existed to be revealed to them. Some of them try out the things He offers. After a bit of practice, they comfortably begin to move about as they were intended to do – because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. When they are weak, instead of tumbling to their deaths, they simply fall into the plushness that is His great grace. As for the rest, He is still reaching for them and waiting for their arrival.
By putting away our ego, He lives and shines in us. By learning His ways, we deepen our understanding and take living to a new level. Through living by His guidance, we increase our likeness to Him. Others are able to see His reflection through us. There we stand, not necessarily artfully, but definitely because of His amazing grace.
He called someone to lead us and they answered. Will you do the same? Will you extend beyond yourself, make connections with others and accept the invitation to light a path for them that leads to Him? Verses 20-21 tells us, 20 We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you—be reconciled to God. 21 For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us!