- Shawna Duvall
The Grace of Chaturanga
I pulled this one out of the archives and thought I'd repost...maybe some of you can relate. Even though this was originally written two years ago...so much still rings true for me. It was a good reminder to my soul today.
It's day six of full court press. My man is on a trip and I've been working zone defense, one on three. I know...that doesn't add up and no coach would ever call that play. But here we are. And yesterday afternoon I felt weariness set in. I heard myself speaking more snippy than sweet. And I felt that knot of stress I carry in my chest growing from bouncy ball to beach ball size. This morning we were running wild late to school, but I took a minute to open the laptop, log on and snatch my spot in the 10:30 yoga class at the gym. It would take some think-ahead planning and rearranging a few things, but it would work. I decided it simply had to work. I needed me some Vinyasa. Some Namaste, girls.
I knew this class was full, but I had signed in ahead of time, securing my place. Walking in with only minutes to spare, there wasn't a single spot left on the floor. Not for a yoga mat. Not really even for a sock. I felt my beach ball tighten into a heavy bowling ball. Our yogi master (is that what they're called? I don't know...but this woman can bend in half and I think she's 65.), after acknowledging the overflow, sternly warned the class that you must sign in online. So standing in the back of the room, eyes scanning all the fellow yogis sitting in their criss-cross applesauce pose (that's what I call it.) I wondered what to do next. My thoughts went like this, "Well, clearly woman, you have "THE LIST" in front of you. And I'm on it. So now is the time for you to tell all those "non-think-ahead" people to kindly pick up their mat and walk and leap their way out of the classroom to make room for those of us who followed the rules." But she didn't. She gave the warning and then just told people to squeeze and make room, which in yoga, is challenging when you are doing leg stretches and a stranger's foot comes in contact with your nose. I was relegated to the back entry way in between pushed-out-of-the-way weights and resistance bands. I felt like a resistance band. Like I was being stretched too far and about to snap.
After pouting and stewing on my mat all by my lonesome in the back corner and hitting the wall with my knee on the first pose, I quietly put on my shoes and picked up my own mat and walked out.
But my quiet, respectful, outward actions did not reflect the inward state of my heart.
I was mad, people. I walked to the next room and decided to do some solo yoga. And the cool thing about yoga is that you really do have time to reflect and let the mind wander. So tucked into child's pose trying to breathe I asked, "Why am I so ticked off about this? What is really at the heart of what I'm feeling?" Those questions usually lead to getting hit with a ton of bricks and conviction, so I'm not sure why I keep asking them, other than that's the Spirit's way...to lead us into all truth. What surfaced was a growing awareness of my Pharisaical tendencies. My legalism. My resemblance to the "teachers of the Law" and the "older brother" in the "Prodigal Son" parable (which should really be called "The Older Brother" parable.)
What I felt were two very strong drives steering my emotions from deep within.
One, I felt a sense of entitlement. I had signed up. I had done things the way I had been told. Obviously the right thing to do was to allow the rule-followers to stay and the others to go, right? Why should I be inconvenienced and denied my "right" by others who didn't have one? Ouch. This one stung a bit.
You see, just like the pharisees, the teachers of the Law, I was first of all perceiving circumstance in a worldly manner and forgetting the greater purposes and ways of a sovereign God. Jesus tried to communicate this to Nicodemus. "You're not able to see and understand because you're looking at things through a human-constructed lens. Look to Me." All I could see was how wrong the situation was from my perspective. And I elevated myself to a level of feeling I deserved to be there. And I guess, in a small, technical way, yes, I did "deserve" to be there. I signed up. BUT, I am no longer living by worldly constructs or legalistic religion. I live by grace alone. Which means none of us at any point in time deserve anything. At all. Nor do we have a right to a sense of entitlement to anything. The only right we have was granted to us by the living God through the sacrificial death of His Son. And that right is to be His child (John 1:12). All is grace. And as declared followers of Christ the King, our lives are to be manifestations of the grace we've been so lavishly granted.
But wasn't there a certain sense of injustice in my situation? To a minuscule degree, sure. And it's OK for me to be grieved or disappointed at injustice. What is not OK is for me to become bitter, resentful, hardened or vindictive. Justice was accomplished for me on the cross. And my hope is firmly set on the Day when all things will be made right in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Not set on this world (or on my little world) always working in accordance to what is good and right.
Second, I had a nagging desire to make sure the yoga instructor knew that I had signed up. I wasn't one of the ones who had messed things up. I had followed the rules and deserved a gold star of approval from her. And just because I had walked in last and there wasn't room for me on the floor didn't mean that I wasn't on The List.
*sigh* Oh, Shawna. What this is, is a sad sign of performance-based living. It's not Gospel. It's not grace. And it grieves my spirit to be entangled day in and day out by such roots of pride in my life. It's a joy-killer and freedom-stealer. Why, when I know that I am eternally accepted, welcomed at His table, named "His beloved with whom He is well-pleased"...WHY do I keep running after lesser approvals? Lesser gods? False Gospels? Please tell me I'm not alone here. Is this you, too?
I know I have been counted righteous before God Almighty. That in the Heavenly Courtroom, my record was shredded and replaced with the perfect record of Christ Jesus. That is mine because He is mine and I am His. It's as if I never sinned.
And yet the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. My hope is found strung throughout the pages of scripture. I am being transformed. He is working in me through the power of the indwelling Spirit a wholehearted love for Him and a full belief in who He is.
Ezekiel 36:25 says this, "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you." I had never caught that last part...from all your idols I will cleanse you. Our salvation not only entails the forgiveness of our sins, but also the sanctifying (holy transformation) work of the Holy Spirit. I can trust my Father's promise to remove the idols in my life as I humbly partner with Him through acts of surrender and faith-filled, obedience. As I resolve to follow Christ, He will continue to cleanse me of these lesser gods. And maybe one day, when I have to walk out of a yoga class again, my heart will go leaping along with my footsteps. Until then, I will prayerfully keep my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.
He is faithful to our transformation and is committed to it because the ultimate end goal is for the world to see His glory in and through us...so that He might receive more thanks and praise and adoration and His Table will be filled to the brim with men and women from every nation, tribe and tongue. It is unto this end that we live and move and have our being. Amen? Amen. :)