I’ve danced, run, played softball (abysmal disaster), and taken my share of aerobics, spinning and Pilates classes, but last week was the first time I’ve ever tried yoga.
I sat on a thin mat with my legs criss-crossed. The teacher began, “Go into prayer position with your hands folded in front of you and your eyes closed.” The room full of strangers wearing spandex pants and tank tops were posed to pray? Maybe I should have tried yoga a long time ago.
She continued, her voice a peaceful, deliberate cadence, “If you’re spiritual, say a prayer of thanksgiving, maybe for the lovely breeze coming through the windows or for some reflective time today, or you can dedicate this workout to someone or something special on your mind.”
I inhaled and exhaled and prayed. Not the kind of prayer I so often say – a ‘to do’ list of wants and needs and demands on God. No, a different kind of prayer -- the kind of prayer when I don’t talk at God, but with Him, and actually give Him a chance to be heard over the noise in my head.
Class continued with an hour’s worth of poses and movements stretching muscles I didn’t realize needed to be stretched. The instructor peppered the class with comments like, “If you’re feeling particularly stretchy, lift your left leg over and behind your right leg.” She didn’t demand we do the move, but gave us the chance to do something even better for our bodies, if only we’d give it a try. Much like God doesn’t force us to go outside our comfort zone, but He gives us amazing prospects, if we’re willing to strike a new pose.
“If you’d like to get a deeper challenge, pull both arms behind you and turn your gaze upward.”
Did she really suggest I look upward, if I’d like a deeper challenge?
God’s just waiting up there with an incredible opportunity, if only I’ll look up to Him. God wants me to stretch! God wants to stretch me!
And God wants to stretch you!
What is it that God has been challenging you to do, but either you let your agenda drown Him out, or you haven’t felt particularly stretchy, or you’ve felt challenged to the hilt already?
I know. Just like you, I’m ready to pull out my iPhone, tap the Notes App and show God the list of reasons I’m not equipped for His plan. I don’t have enough time, experience, strength, contacts, expertise, resources, money, Twitter followers etc. to execute His plan.
Moses was weak and nervous and stuttered. But God said “What’s that in your hand?” Moses answered, “A staff”. And all Moses needed to take on the powerful pharaoh of Egypt and free an entire nation was that stick. David was young, inexperienced and ridiculed by his own brothers. But, David didn’t need King Saul’s armor or sword or army to take down the biggest terrorist this side of the Jordan River. He only needed five small, smooth stones. And Peter? Jesus asked him to leap out of a boat in the middle of the sea and “Come ahead.” Jesus didn’t throw Peter a raft or scuba gear or water skis. Peter just needed his own feet to walk on water! Well, they needed a stick, some stones, two feet and … faith. Maybe all we need to be stretched is our faith and something as simple as a yoga mat.
We all have constraints. But God doesn’t care. Like my yoga instructor, He doesn’t demand we accept His challenge. But He knows if we step up, the blind will see, mountains will move, seas will part and justice will be done. His Kingdom will be a better place. We will feel invigorated, empowered, energized, peaceful and comfortable in our own skins, because we’ll be living out His plan for us.
How is God asking you to stretch today? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment on where your legs and arms and gaze need to go to get a deeper stretch. And when you’re done grab your mat and strike prayer pose.