Thursday, September 15, 2016

Where Did My Rhythm Go?

"But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice." Psalm 55:17 (ESV)

Ever feel like this picture?!?

In college, my life was fairly simple. Make sure I attended class (mostly) on time, get to work and spend all of my free hours on the basketball courts or at the beach. I was free to sleep, eat, hang with friends, etc. as long as it fit within my responsibilities. I could not say that I had much intentional and personal rhythm in those days.

Fast forward the tape and it has become all about rhythm for me. I crave accomplishing things on time and in order. I want to wake up at the same time each day, accomplish certain work tasks at the same time each day and set up daily, weekly and monthly milestones of tasks so that I feel in rhythm. More importantly, I need to set aside time throughout the day to call out to the Lord in worship and in prayer.

If you were to look at my calendar, it would look very neat and orderly and, well to be honest, rhythmic. However, if you were to look at my real life, especially right after summer vacation, the rhythm might be more challenging to discover.

I can tell how I am doing spiritually and emotionally by how well I am keeping my rhythm. Devotions, prayer time, blog writing, time with my wife and kids all suffer when I am not diligent in keeping a rhythm. So when I determine that my rhythm is off kilter, what are my steps to restore rhythm and get back to a healthy pace of life?

I start by looking at my current rhythm and goals to determine if they are realistic and if they truly will help me to meet my needs. Do I need to wake up ten minutes earlier? Do I need to plan a different day to write blogs so that I can throw the softball around with my daughter? How do the demands on my time affect my ability to carve out date nights with my wife?

After a quick self-assessment, I then make adjustments. I reset alarms, and change calendar events and work to maintain a pace that accomplishes what I need to in a way that honors both God and my family. It is after the adjustments that my weaknesses come into full view. I excel at assessment and planning and designing and creating essential rhythms for my life. It is the need to execute my plans with discipline where I most often struggle.

I like sleeping in and must battle this tendency most mornings. I like staying up late to eat ice cream and watch Netflix with my wife, but this does not support the morning wake up routine very well.

It is a daily battle to not merely restore the rhythms of my life, but to maintain them on a daily basis.

When I look at the life of Jesus, I am amazed by how much He accomplished, yet He never seemed hurried or rushed. He woke up early, prayed for hours, mentored the disciples and still had plenty of time to be moved by compassion for the crowds. He was truly our example of living a life of rhythm. He knew what His purpose was and He had the discipline to stay the course.

While Jesus clearly set an unattainable goal for us in terms of rhythm and purpose, is He not still to be our role model? Does not the very word "Christian" imply that we are following after and striving to live like Him? Be encouraged that living a life of rhythm is not about religious duty or obligation...God simply does not work like that. It is about learning how we are individually wired, what our purpose is, what our strengths are and how to be accomplish all that God has for us. Let us commit to keeping God first, family (including ourselves) second and fitting everything else into our rhythms after that.

So, who are you? Morning or evening? Social or introvert? Work or school or both? Kids? Personal goals and plans? The key is making space to worship and call out to the Lord in the morning, in the afternoon and the evening. This only happens as we discover and remain faithful to our rhythm. As you reflect upon these basic questions, my prayer is that the answers help you to discover your rhythm and that you are able to restore rhythm and then move forward with greater intentionality than ever before.

Dear Lord, it is so easy to become distracted and weighed down by the busyness of life. Often, we forget to be about our Father's business, but instead are merely surviving. Help us, Lord, to discover the perfect rhythm You have for our lives and give us the strength to live in this rhythm. May we say "yes" to what matters and "no" to everything else, in order to enjoy the abundant and purposeful life You have planned for each of us. Amen!

~ Mike

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