Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Rest of the Story

    You are a drop of water in a sea of God. Do not grow hard and frozen or steamed up with emotion. Rather rest and become indistinguishable  
from the clear waters that surround you.

      I did not know that I was preparing to open a business, but God did and for the two years prior to opening Quiet the answer to every prayer I sent up was a gentle whisper of a single word "rest". The content of my prayers changed often over the years, asking for guidance, asking for strength,  declaring my devotion all were answered with one word "rest". Ironically at this time in my life my job was at its peak in physicality. I not only taught yoga at 6 different studios/gyms I also taught a cardio class and a dance class that kept me sweating and moving. My days were a whirlwind of activity and the idea of rest a mirage in a far off desert. I didn't know where to begin except to alter my prayers to match Gods answer. My prayer changed to a plea "teach me how to rest". I knew enough to realize that it was not merely a physical rest God was calling me to, but a deep inner resting in Him. But He might as well have been instructing me to juggle capuchin monkeys drinking banana daiquiris. I had no clue where to start.
     Rewind a few years and I remember God introducing a concept to me called "kavana". Kavana is a Hebrew word meaning roughly to be continually aware of the presence of God surrounding you. There is a scripture (I Thess 5:7) that calls us to pray without ceasing. This scripture basically calls us to kavana. I already figured out that one could not continually speak to God, when would we sleep? And I already knew that when God calls us to something He equips us to do it, so this directive was confounding. But praying doesn't necessarily mean speaking, prayer is a relational conversation and that includes listening. And if God is all around us all the time then entering a state of kavana (divine awareness) is definitely something like praying without ceasing. But just any state of awareness does not necessarily translate to rest. Think of the state of awareness a rattlesnake at your feet would bring: high awareness, not much rest!

     As God kept gently nudging me to learn what rest is the concept of joy kept coming up. Joy, happiness, cheerfulness: these are not the same state. Joy has nothing to do with our external circumstances but rather an inner knowing that we are safe and free. Trust is a component of joy. Happiness can come and go and be tied into what is happening around us. Joy is an internal anchor that comes from trusting God is taking care of us. So in a nutshell kavana + joy = rest. This equation is found in my journal Sept 14, 2011 after two years of  God answering my prayers with "rest" what I had was a formula.  This looked satisfying on the page like I had accomplished something, but God didn't just intend for me to come up with a formula, He intended for me to learn to rest. So fast forward to now and the lessons keep coming. In my kitchen window I have a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses. I bought them when they were tight little buds and now most of them have blossomed into huge bundles of beauty and cheer. Most of them; there were a few that did not open up all the way and now look wrinkly and brown. As I was looking at the roses last night wondering why a few hadn't opened God directed my attention to the biggest brightest bloom. It had opened so grandly because it rested. Literally relaxing its petals open to reveal stunning beauty. I have not learned the fine art of continual rest, but moment by moment God is leading me to deeper awareness and deeper joy and slowly a kind of rest is taking hold. This is a life long journey, but it is my path and so I put one foot in front of the other in the most restful way I know. The joy of the Lord truly is your strength and mine. What about taking 30 seconds right now to just close your eyes and imagine you are breathing in and out the spirit of God? This is the first step on the path of soul rest, knowing God is there. Even if you are running a marathon or chasing after a toddler rest is available, we just have to know it and allow it. There is no where you can go that God is not surrounding you with love and maybe just maybe if you sit still for a moment you will hear a small whisper "rest" .