“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
- Matthew 5:13-16
I have never been able to look after plants. I remember that time when a friend gifted me with a cactus and said to me, "Cactus are hard to kill so you should be fine with this." She clearly didn't know what I was capable of. Long story short, I knocked the pot plant over twice and both times, I spilt the soil out. I shoved all the soil back into the pot in a desperate attempt to make everything look normal but then eventually, the cactus died. You see, some things may look fine on the outside but if not properly nourished, eventually there will be no life left in it. Like the opening verse above, if salt loses its saltiness, it is of no use.
Every so often, I come across people who have the privilege to preach on platforms aimed to inspire. However, upon learning more about them in person, they exude bitterness that you can taste just by standing next to them. It makes me ponder their authenticity and urges me to reflect on the posture of my own heart.
As a yoga instructor, I find myself teaching a lot more than I practice on the mat myself. I'm sure you can identify - finding the balance between being a teacher and being a student! And now I go back to that cactus analogy again. I find myself in the same fate as that cactus - when things spill over in my life, I shove everything together in place hastily. From the onset, it looks fine but I'm drying up from within.
I am big on encouraging my students to dedicate time for daily devotions and yoga on the mat. Do I practice what I preach? Good question.
My mind travels back to a time when I was working so hard that I left no time for family, friends and devotion time with God. I justified my outreach efforts "as doing good in all the ways I can" (much inspired by the great John Wesley!) but my soul was dry. My efforts would soon become a malnourished cactus and die. This reminds me of the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) that says, "when seeds are fallen on the rocky path and thorn bushes, it cannot grow, but when it falls on good soil, it produces good crops."
This leads to the question - Are you living a nourished life? We can be so caught up in the doing that we forget to go back to nourishing our roots. You see, we can preach the nicest and most inspiring things. But humans don't like hypocrites. Can you be LIVING an inspiring life instead of merely SPEAKING inspiration? Can you live in a way that glorifies God, honouring your parents, respecting your spouse, caring for your next generation, loving your neighbours and enemies? Living so joyfully that it sparks others to seek the kind of love found in the God we serve?
Bobbie Houston in her book, 'Sisterhood', drew a powerful visualisation:
Imagine the planet and the people. Imagine nations, cities, and then neighborhoods. Imagine the darkened places of both public and private habitation. Imagine the shadows that cloud lives and existence and eclipse the light. Imagine all that is spiritually and literally stark and barren, and then imagine our homes and our lives amid them breaking into glorious color and life. Imagine your home and your life and all it represents breaking into color. Well, I can only imagine that would resemble an oasis in a dry and thirsty, parched and colorless land. "
Bobbie illustrates it so beautifully here that in our dark and broken world, it's the way we live our lives (starting from our HOMES) where colour and light shines into the world!