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Lent Day 34: Rest

April 04, 2020 John and Sungshim Loppnow Lent

If you missed the previous posts in this Lent series, you might find it helpful to start with Lent Day 4, Getting Started with Practices.

This Week's Breath Prayer*

  • Pause and set your intention to become fully present to God who is with us in this moment.
  • Breathe IN and hear Jesus say with power and confidence, “Let it be”
  • Breathe OUT and hear Jesus say, “Done unto me”

*For more detail on this breath prayer, see Lent Day 29: Prayer.

All babies come into this world with their hands clenched. When we try to pry them open, we are surprised by their mighty grip. It takes time for the babies to open their hands. In life, it takes time for us to open our hands once they have been made into a strong grip.

Do this exercise with me: make two fists and hold them as tightly as you can, then count backward for 8 seconds, opening your fists when you count down to 1.

Ready? Let’s try!

  • Make two fists and hold them as tight as possible
  • Count 8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2
  • On the count of 1, open your fists!

How was it? On the count of 1 were you able to easily open your fists? You might have been surprised by how unnatural it was to open your hands after they’ve been in such a strong grip. Did you notice any of the following? That all of your arm and face muscles were tightened along with your fists? That you were holding your breath? That you needed to exhale before you could let go?

It is an essential life skill to get comfortable with the rhythms of life’s pattern: order, disorder, and reorder. We are called to create ‘order’ in our life since we are made in His image - and God Himself brought order to chaos in the beginning. And yet, we are also called to continually let go of the order and receive disorder. This is how we enter into the work of God’s reordering… His work of creation; forming me into Christlikeness. This work never stops, but continues all throughout our life.

Just as we experienced the strong grip in the fist-making exercise, how much more does our own strong will exercise control over us? Let us accept the challenge to exhale and let go of the strong grip that gives us the illusion of security and order.

Go Deeper with Rest (optional):

  • Set your Intention to grow your capacity to rest in God’s love. Let’s stop striving to open our hands. The forceful energy we use to create the fists will not allow us to open them, only a gentle and soft exhale can do that. It takes regular practice to get familiar with the sensation of exhaling, in order to fully and freely exhale and return “home” to God in delight. Today, let us pause our striving and strong grip and rest in God’s reality of love where EVERYthing is welcomed. Yes, all is welcomed.
  • Have a conversation with God about your struggle. In His presence you do not need to choose one experience over the other: grief OR gratitude, empty OR full, lost OR found, life OR death. His presence is so vast and big and deep, that two seemingly opposite experiences can find their own place to belong: grief AND gratitude, empty AND full, lost AND found, life AND death.

    Let us get comfortable with the “AND” by entering into a conversation with God about all of your fear and of having to choose one feeling over another. What conflicting thoughts or emotions have you been struggling with? Instead of spending lots of energy trying to choose one right thing, exhale and tell God about it. And don’t forget to be curious of what He will say back to you.

    “Dear God…”

    After you share, remember to pause and listen to God’s response.

    “Dear child of mine…”
  • Engage yourself in a posture of rest. When you are finished interacting with God, engage yourself in a posture of rest through the responsive reading below.

    As you read your part, use a hand gesture that shows where His presence lies (as indicated in brackets below). Note that the gesture of extending both hands wider at the third line engages your body to remember God’s reality: It is God who holds all things together; we just need to extend our arms open for God’s presence and action to be manifested among us.

    You can do this responsive reading alone, or as a family activity. If you are alone, read both parts, but imagine you are in the sanctuary with a pastor and you are responding as the congregation.

    • Pastor: Even in the pandemic
      All: God is with me [one hand over chest]
    • Pastor: Even in the pandemic
      All: God is with you [one hand extended to the other]
    • Pastor: Even in the pandemic
      All: God is with us [both hands extended wider to all]
    Pause and read a second time.
    • Pastor: Even in the dark
      All: God is with me [one hand over chest]
    • Pastor: Even in the dark
      All: God is with you [one hand extended to the other]
    • Pastor: Even in the dark
      All: God is with us [both hands extended wider to all]

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Tags: rest, lent, practices

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