The Body is More

For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”  Luke 12:23 (NLT)

Our memories are not just stored in our minds. I know it sounds hard to believe, and sometimes we wish it was that simple. If it were, we could simple blocks things out of our minds, or we could ask God to wash our minds clean and memories would be gone. But it isn’t that simple. God made us as integrated beings, and as such, our memories are not just stored in our minds. Our memories are also stored in our bodies.

That’s why, for one thing, a certain touch or movement can bring back a wave of emotion or thought. It happened to me in yoga today; the movement of my body released a memory and the feelings attached. And this is just one example of how memories are stored.

Scripture has told us all along that our bodies are more than food and clothing. Our bodies carry the very essence of who we are, of who we have been, and of who we will and can be. Our bodies are vessels of more than just the ornamentation we put on the outside. Our bodies carry not only our stature and our presence, but also our memories and dreams and fears.

And God — the One who holds us — does too. In the 56th Psalm, it says that God keeps track of all my sorrows. “You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

Isn’t that beautiful!?  God, who carries me and my body and life, also carries my memories, sorrows and tears. And He treats them with tender, loving care.

Shouldn’t we?

Your body is more than clothing. It carries much, much more. And it is worthy of the very same tender, loving care that the Father gives.

The Things That Remain

“‘Well done, my good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'” Matthew 25:21 & 23 (NIV)

We all have struggles.  We all have things that are difficult for us.  Things that we wish were different.  Things we wish we could change.  One dear friend of mine has MS.  Another dear friend has chronic insomnia.  Another has breast cancer.  We all have things we wish we could change.

I too have things in my life that I wish were different.  And to those things, the Lord had a personal word for me yesterday.  His word was this:  focus not on the things I have denied you;  focus instead on the things I have given you, and steward them well.  

What’s ironic about His Word to me is that it very similar to the message I give all the time.  My ministry is to remind people that God has given each of us an amazing gift called the body, and your own body is a gift to be cherished and cared for with its own unique crafting in mind.  I’m constantly telling people that loving the body you have been given is a way to love the Giver — a valid way to worship.  That spending time and energy wishing it was different is not a response of gratitude, but love and stewardship is.  And yet, in other ways, I find myself needing God’s gentle reminder to focus not on what He has denied me, but to focus instead on what He has given me, and steward it well.

It can be hard sometimes.  I have friends who are single and deeply want to be married.  I have friends who are childless and deeply want children.  I have friends whose kids have autism, another with a child who is partially paralyzed, and another whose child is battling brain cancer.  It can be hard to keep our minds off of those things that He has denied … but I know that if you asked each of my friends, they would, even still, acknowledge that God has been good to them … particularly if they focus not on that which God has denied them, but stay focused on what He has given them and work to steward it well.

And so, will you join me?  In all aspects of our lives, will you join me?  With our bodies and our hearts and our minds and our souls, to focus not on what He has denied us, but to focus on what He has given … and to steward that well.

Because He is a good, good Father.  And I want to show Him that I know it too.

Christ Alone

“This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by’ you, ‘the builders, that has become the cornerstone.’  And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:11 (NET)

I am not a yogi.  But I do practice yoga.  Once a week, on average.  Yoga is great for my body, but it also teaches my mind and my spirit things.  One of the things it is teaching me is to let go of self.  Because sometimes I make mistakes in my yoga practice.  Sometimes I have an off-day, for example, and I have trouble finding my focus and my balancing series suffers.  On those days, I have a choice:  to get frustrated and upset with myself or to let it go.  To accept my frailty and imperfection, learn from it, and let it go.  Or to beat myself up and continue in the falsity that I can do all of it right.  Because I cannot focus on this posture if I’m still beating myself up over the last one.

And so it is with the rest of life.  I make mistakes.  Sometimes big ones.  I make mistakes and I fall down and I sin.  At that point, I have a choice:  to beat myself up because I am “better” than that (Ha!) … or to accept my fallenness, turn to the love and grace of Jesus, let it wash me clean, and move on.  You see, even self-flagellation about mistakes and sins and missteps is an exercise of self.  Yoga reminds me  to see my mistakes — to accept them and learn from them — to bury them in Jesus’ wounds — and to move on with deep, deep gratitude.  Deep, deep gratitude, profound humility, and exorbitant praise.

You see, the God of the cross is not a God who then demands perfection.  He knows me better than that.  He is a God who loves me, who knows all about me, who knows my story, and loves me anyway.  He loves me enough to provide me with a  way out of my mess.  He loves me enough to give me Jesus.  And Jesus gives me the chance not to rely on myself, but to rely on Him.

And so, as I rely on Jesus — on Christ alone — I am choosing to let it go.  Not to reside in the past, but to pursue God and focus on Him more and more in each present moment.