Now go back into downward-facing-dog. And breathe."
It was at that point I nearly drowned as rivers of sweat ran into my eyes and nose, choking me as I followed the yoga instructor’s directions to “breathe”.
Welcome to hot-yoga where you willingly contort yourself into very unusual twisted body positions in a room that is at least 40C. You sweat like a pig. And THAT is no exaggeration. (For the record, the yoga I practise is simply the stretches, not the weird spiritual side of it, just to clear things up for anyone who might be wondering.)
“Ok, kick your right leg high up in the air; now bring it through and plant it on the ground in front of you, high lunge, arms in the air – Warrior 1…”AND the sweat continued to run in rivers down my body. I glanced over at my husband who was taking the class with me. He was drenched, looked at me, eyes wide, and had the “Oh my gosh, this is HOT!” look on his face.
Even though both of us are experienced hot yoga-goers, we were nearly dying tonight. This class was killer hot, much hotter than usual. Every breath, every move was excruciating. Sweat pouring off in buckets. Clothes absolutely drenched. Wheezes and heavy breathing echoed in the room and the mirror reflected about 20 exhausted people, most probably thinking, “I am paying money for this??!”
I was bound and determined to finish off the remaining 20 minutes of class. With every “downward-facing-dog” pose, I would tell myself, “You can do this. This isn’t that bad. Hell is hotter. Hell is WAY hotter! Suck it up, princess.” (Not exactly typical yoga lingo.) Then all of a sudden, “Whoosh!” the door opened and a blast of air filtered into the room. COOL AIR! REFRESHING AIR! A loud, unified “Ahhhh!” went up from the class.
Door shut. Pain and sweat once again ensued. A few minutes later, another cool breeze wafts in. “Sorry guys, I don’t know why it’s so hot in here tonight. I’ll try to go a bit easier on you,” our yoga instructor encouraged as she opened and shut the door a few times, waving in some fresh air.
As class was coming to an end and I lay on my mat in “corpse pose”, relishing every slight breeze of fresh air that came in through the instructor’s gracious door-flapping attempts, I heard this little voice, “This is what My Gospel is to your soul.”
God had my attention. (Yes, God will speak to you on your yoga mat if you will listen.)
The Gospel, God’s Good News refreshes. It renews. Restores. Enlivens. Revitalizes.
Throughout the Bible, heat is used in analogy not only for our sin but the combination of sin + human effort. Everything we try to do to make ourselves right or acceptable to God or every sinful craving and indulgence we give into because we recognize we will never be able to live up to God’s standard, so why bother = Heat. Scorching. Pain. Discomfort. Weariness. Exhaustion. Death.
Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes you repeatedly find the phrase, “under the sun”. It was Solomon’s way of describing how difficult, how exhausting, how painful things are when we slave away through life, in our sin, striving in our own efforts to make life work and worthwhile. “Under the sun” – not fun.
That’s why the Good News is such good news: In the midst of the heat of life’s pressure and sin’s weight and our own works, God offers refreshing. HE opens a door and we encounter His grace – His divine Life which He offers us through Jesus Christ. Except God doesn’t just swing open the door, flap a few breezes to us, and leave us where we’re at. He opens the door, says, “This class is over. For good. Follow Me out of here and I’ll bring you to REAL refreshing! Trust Me. It’s much better out here.”
Grace has absolutely nothing to do with us and everything to do with God. That’s why it’s called “Good News” – God does it all. Ephesians 2:8 in The Message says,
“Saving is all HIS idea, and all HIS work. All we do is TRUST HIM enough to LET HIM do it. It’s GOD’S GIFT from start to finish!”
That is GOOD NEWS for my soul! God does it all. I can continue to drown in the sweat of my own efforts to “make my life” or I can say “Yes!” to the open door of God’s refreshing grace that Jesus Christ is offering me. And you.
“Under the sun” or “under the Son”. Which will it be?