Christian theologian Henri Nouwen writes in his book Here and Now, “Real life takes place in the here and now. God is in the present.” When I read that, I began to think, as human beings, why are we stuck in our past? Why do we mull over events, words, and interactions long gone by? Why do we worry and fixate about tomorrow? Why do we busy ourselves with tasks that we think will give ourselves importance? Why? The answer is often that we are trying to distract ourselves from the present moment because the present is scary.
In the present, we just have to “be.” The present is where God is. Where we hear from God. Well, how scary, daunting, fun, exciting, nerve racking, did I mention scary is that! The present is where we are in relationship with God. Where He speaks to us and where we have the opportunity to answer back. I repeat, how scary, daunting, fun, exciting, and nerve racking is that!
The present is where we are faced with who we are, not who we were or who we will become. Let’s be honest, being in the present is no fun! We can’t rehash old arguments or play the always fun, but emotionally scarring, “What if” game. We can’t play fortune teller with future events or set up a plan to manipulate future situations. In the present, all we can do is be still. God knew our wandering minds and gave us mantra in Psalm 46:10--“Be still and know I am God.”
The biblical story of Martha and Mary is a good example of finding God in the present. It is a story of wanting to sit at the feet of Jesus to be present with the Lord and the constant internal struggle of always performing, doing and thinking. Martha was mad at her sister, Mary, for not helping her with the hosting and hospitality duties. Martha saw her sister being present in the moment as lazy and selfish. When she voiced her discontent with Jesus, he responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, but only one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen the good part which will not be taken from her” (Luke 10:41-42). In those two verses, what struck me right between the eyes was the word “only.” Jesus said “ONLY one thing is needed.” Only one thing. The only thing required of us is to be present with the Lord. God is in the present.
I can relate to Martha on so many levels and pointing out those ways is for another blog or for a therapist. Yoga is a way for me to be free from my “Martha” mind and surrender to a “Mary” mindset. My practice gives me the gift of the present moment where I can come back to God and dwell in His presence. I usually fight the call to come to my mat with excuses like “I have too many other things to do” or “I will practice once I get the more important things done on my to-do list.” Like Martha, I too forget “only one thing is needed.” As soon as I sit on my mat, close my eyes and take that first deep breath, I come into the present. I come into the
presence of God. I am no longer frustrated about the past or worrying about tomorrow. It occurs to me that I am still for the first time that day. In that stillness, I feel my Savior waiting to have communion with me. In that present moment, I feel God and His glory surround me.
As His breath moves through me, I can think of nothing else but this breath coming into and out of my body. My body moves into a moving meditation, and I am aware that God is giving me a precious gift. The gift of the present moment where all I can do is focus on Him. My breath and movement are a type of breath prayer to the God of the universe. There is no space for worry, anxiety, and to-do lists. There is space for only worship, prayer and thanksgiving. In this present moment, I am face-to-face with my identity as a child of God. And at the end of my practice, I sit at the feet of Jesus and allow him to minister to me and finally, I am ready and willing to “be still and know He is God.”
Jennifer Swets loves Jesus and yoga and finds peace when combining both on the mat. She has a passion to facilitate spiritual and emotional healing through Christ-centered yoga. She is a YogaFaith Ambassador and has a heart to train Christian yoga teachers.
Photo Credit, both photos: Dee Jones of Open Door Photography.