The Bare Soul -
June 22, 2008
A Restful Return
Psalm 116:7 - Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
Occasionally, when out running I will step on something in just the right way and in just the right place that it sends a pang of pain through my entire body. Yes, even barefoot runners such as myself that have ran thousands of miles barefoot will still experience stepping on something from time to time that is ... well, unpleasant and painful. When I was just starting out in my barefoot running pilgrimage, it was of greater consequence stepping on a sharp rock because I dwelt on the pain longer and then tightened up with fear that I would land on another. Of course, when one is tense then the journey becomes more about getting it over with rather than enjoying the run. Bottom line: One cannot successfully run barefoot by tensing up every time one steps on something unpleasant. The outcome would result in being tied up like a bundle of nerves and tensed up beyond the point of relaxation, which after all, is what barefoot running should be about.
Oh what a joy to run carefree, when one does experience something unpleasant to forget about it as quick as it happens! This becomes easier and easier the longer I run barefoot. The same can be said regarding a maturing Christian and how he or she reacts to what life may throw their way. Even as I quiet the "sole" of my foot after a stone bruise by reminding myself to relax, in the same way we as believers should remind ourselves to constantly "Return to your rest, O my soul". Even if our body cries out in pain after stepping on something uncomfortable, it is natural to experience the pain but not to have to dwell on it. The key is to minimize the discomfort by dwelling on "the joy set before me" of running carefree. In the same way, God allows us to return to our place of rest, or our "center" which will always be the resting place of the Most High. Whether we call it resting in the Everlasting Arms, or being sheltered under the Wings of His Love, these are images of resting places that truly allow us to return to our center, the place of greatest attraction for the believer.
Let me explain further about the place of greatest attraction. The place of greatest attraction for anything on earth is the center of the earth. For, if you drop something it will always fall or be attracted to the earth's center by the law of gravity. In the same way, a believer is enveloped with the Love of Christ which enables them to return to the "center" of our spiritual existence, which is Christ is us, the hope of glory. We will always fall toward our "holy center" if we don't allow anything to impede us. Just as an outside force may interrupt the law of gravity by grabbing an object before it falls to earth, so we must be diligent not to allow an impedance to interrupt our return to our spiritual rest in the Beloved.
Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Motte Guyon (or Madame Guyon for short) understood the importance of re-centering ones self in respect to her Maker. This 17th century Christian wrote the following in her book "A Short and Easy Method of Prayer".
As soon as anything is turned towards its centre, it is precipitated towards it with extreme rapidity, unless it be withheld by some invincible obstacle. A stone held in the hand is no sooner disengaged than by its own weight it falls to the earth as to its centre; so also water and fire, when unobstructed, flow incessantly towards their centre. Now, when the soul by its efforts to recollect itself, is brought into the influence of the central tendency, it falls gradually, without any other force than the weight of love, into its proper centre; and the more passive and tranquil it remains, and the freer from self-motion, the more rapidly it advances, because the energy of the central attractive virtue is unobstructed, and has full liberty for action.
Madame Guyon later acknowledges that distractions will come and go and that these are part of life. The difference is how we react to them. The quicker we can return to that place of rest and instinctively "fall" towards our center, the more we can enjoy that constant fellowship of the Divine Life that dwells within the spiritual core of each believer that has confessed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. As I stated, the imagery is individual whether one visualizes themselves falling into the arms of Jesus, or whether one sees themselves resting in the Mighty Wings of the Most High. The most important thing is to understand that we have that place of refuge that we can "fall" to when the struggles of life come upon us. Even as this barefoot runner must remind his "soles" to return to their rest after an unpleasant experience, so we MUST practice returning to our "center" and that glorious place of rest that He has promised to all who would but believe.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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