Friday, January 4, 2013

Thy Kingdom Come

     When I take to my mat with my highest intention it is always to connect to God. Sometimes, of course, I do yoga for other reasons, but the deepest desire of my life and practice is to be more intimate with God and to allow the man made separations between us to dissolve like the illusions that they are. So it was,  that I found myself practicing my asanas (postures) to the mantra (chant) of the Lord's prayer. This is the prayer in which Jesus models how to pray. Of course we aren't to just blindly parrot His words but to use the Lords Prayer as a template to go deeper. It begins cordially enough acknowledging God "Our Father Who art in heaven" acknowledging that even His name is holy "hallowed be Thy Name". But then the first direction it gives us to pray is "Thy kingdom come". If this is something that is important for us to pray I want to know why.  What is God's kingdom? How do we make it come? I have lots of questions that wikipedia doesn't necessarily cover! Here's the answer I am exploring at the moment. Romans 14:17 "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking but a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit". So, most of us get that our food choices are linked to health and ethics but not really a huge factor in our God relationship. If we are eating spiritually the only command we are given is to not be a glutton and to not let our food choices stumble others. So, being a proactive person, I'll move on to the "doing part"... I want to be righteous and peaceful and joyful if this is how God is calling us to bring His kingdom. But how?

     Righteousness is simple. Not easy, but simple. Righteousness comes from hearing the Word. What this means is to simply know the rules and laws of your chosen faith structure and follow them. If you wanna be a righteous citizen follow the laws of the land you live in and if you want to be righteous in God's eyes, follow His commandments. So to this end I am recommitting to daily time in the Bible. I have not allowed my daily quiet time to lapse, but sometimes I just read an inspirational book or meditate and it is not sufficient to be righteous. If you want to be a righteous Muslim, read your Koran, if I want to be a righteous version of myself I gotta get into the scriptures I was born into: the Judeo Christian Bible. Don't just expect God's laws to soak into your psyche, study!

     Peace, again simple in concept, peace may take a lifetime to become a constant reality in our lives. To the best of my current understanding, peace is uncovered in us when we are satisfied that what is happening in the present moment is God's will for us. And if we subscribe to God's omnipotence (which I do) then every moment and every space is occupied and under the command of God. So we may not like what is happening in a moment but that does not mean we cannot accept it as His will. Accepting Gods will is not resigning to pain and miserable moments, but rather knowing God is with us in all of our moments the ones we label good and the ones that hurt our heart. When pain comes, we can struggle and moan and potentially exacerbate our pain, or we can accept it is under Gods control and turn to prayer for direction and comfort.

     Joy is the quality I am most actively exploring right now. Joy in the Holy Spirit seems to emanate from a renewed mind. A mind that is placed on God and His word. A mind not allowed to run amuck, but rather a mind that is examined, cleansed and mostly controlled. I have been watchful of my thoughts and beginning to recognize unhealthy ones as they begin. We all have joyless thoughts, they just happen but what are you going to do with them? The first thing God tells us to do with our thoughts is to examine if they are true. Are you really a hopeless loser or is this thought a lie? Are your thoughts lovely? If your thought is not true it must be replaced immediately with a true thought. for example  "I am a loser" can be replaced with " I am a cherished child of God".God calls us to true, lovely, noble, pure,  good and kind thoughts. A tall order, I know, but an achievable one with time, diligence and persistence. And it is when we line our thoughts up with God that we are joyful in the Holy Spirit. Joy is not found outside of you, but uncovered as you slowly allow your mind to be transformed. So, there it is: righteousness, peace and joy! And just like we are to take to our mat daily if we want to rock those yoga postures we need to work our righteousness, peace and joy daily if we want to be a part of "Thy kingdom come". It is my joy to walk with you fellow child of God as we go deeper this year. Happy 2013!

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15

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