“Aaahh!” Just walking into a sauna elicits a sigh of appreciation. It feels as if the often chilling troubles of the world are shut out, as the door closes and I’m enveloped by the warmth. There’s a sense of peace and relaxation which I find in no other place. Of course I’m referring to a physical sensation. Spiritually, God’s Presence is better than the best sauna imaginable.
I am aware that some of you may share my Dad’s feelings regarding saunas. He describes the experience as; confining, choking, smothering. I believe he equates the dark, heated room as more hellish than heavenly. I hasten to add that those words are his opinion of sitting in a sauna and never in regards to his relationship with God. That said and since this is my story; let’s proceed…
Making time to sit in the sauna, is by far the hardest part. I enjoy working out at the gym. Since my day is usually quite full, my time there can seem too short. That makes it difficult to simply sit and rest both body and mind. I find that the experience is greatly enhanced and justified when I incorporate my prayer time. Beginning with Psalm 23, I find myself mentally, physically and spiritually “lying down in green pastures and having my soul restored”. But, getting to that place can be a real struggle. In this busy world, it is so difficult to sometimes just sit down and talk with the LORD. But, when you do, it becomes the most rewarding, refreshing part of your day.
The wonderful warmth of the sauna is what makes it so appealing. I think the desire to be cocooned in warmth, goes back to being in the womb. Seriously! As soon as we’re born, we’re wrapped up and kept “snug as a bug”. Illness, fear and anxiety are shooed away by a Mother wrapping their child in the security of a blanket. Once set, that memory follows us throughout our lives. Warmth equals security.
This is even more appropriate in a relationship with God. As the LORD told Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” – so it is with us! Every human life is implanted with a desire to seek out the security of God. Some choose the wrong path. Others choose to ignore the invitation to “enter into His Presence”. But, for those who enter in, the warmth of His unconditional love surrounds us, enveloping us. Sin, fear and anxiety are not permitted in and we enjoy the blessings of His security.
Another of the benefits of a sauna, is sweating out the impurities in our bodies. It’s amazing! You can work in the sun, building up a sweat and you feel horrible; sticky, dirty, smelly. But, sweating in a sauna leaves you feeling clean, refreshed. Likewise, talking to God enables us to rid ourselves of moral, mental and spiritual impurities. We can discuss those same things with another person and end up feeling even worse. God listens and if we are sincere, He takes away the dirt and grime and the smell of shame, leaving us feeling pure, refreshed, renewed.
I especially enjoy having the lights out, as I soak up the heat. The quiet, dark, warmth just seems to melt away aches and pains; physically, mentally and spiritually. Spending that time with my LORD is bliss. Sometimes I am allowed to fully enjoy my privacy, in my preferred manner. Other times, I am joined by one or two other guys, who inevitably turn the lights on and feel the need to talk. But, that’s okay. It simply means a change of focus. Kinda. I still maintain focus on the LORD – sometimes even more so. Conversations can run from occupations to politics to “humor”. Any of these topics can be a lead in to a Christian witness. That’s when the Light really shines!
The only down side to saunas, is the time allotment. You can’t stay in there too long, even if your schedule didn’t demand leaving. Too much of a good thing can be bad. Dehydration would be the biggest factor; leading to high blood pressure, or worse. That’s never the case with God. The only time allotment for spending time with Him, would be due to us leaving. Jesus said; “I will be with you always”. We never need leave the wonderful warmth of His cleansing Presence. You can never overstay your welcome and spiritual dehydration is never a concern, in the Presence of The Living Water – Jesus.
I wrote the preceding article yesterday. However, something stopped me from posting it last night. I found out this morning, that it wasn’t quite done. Following this morning’s workout, I decided on a ten minute sauna to relax, unwind and enjoy a few extra moment of quit time with my LORD. I did just that; lights out, heat up – aaahh! I had a few minutes left as… sure enough, the lights came on and a guy entered. Before I could even make a motion to leave, he began a conversation which almost immediately turned into; “I only go to church because of my wife… wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t go… I don’t really get anything out of it… My daughter is suicidal… tried to talk to a priest… kid had no idea what hurt is… If God is real, He doesn’t care…..”. Well, half an hour later, I left, praying and hoping that I had planted some seeds and encouraged him to get to know Jesus – not just Who He is – but get into a personal relationship with the LORD. It just now occurred to me that I don’t even know the guy’s name. I may have seen him at the gym, but we had never talked before. Hopefully we will again. I can tell you that I feel a peace inside which no sauna can ever match. I can also tell you that I don’t believe in coincidence. When God brings you together with another person; wherever, whenever, there’s a reason. Just be willing to listen, ask God to provide the right attitude and words. Then be aware and thankful – He’s working on, in and through you – a real heart warming experience!