Once, at a gathering of church leaders, I heard someone ask Dr. Eddie Fox, “Is it more important for our churches to reach out or look inward and nurture our own first?” He responded by asking his own rhetorical question: “Is it more important to breath in or breath out?!” After the laughter died down, Dr. Fox added “There is an answer you know: it’s most important to do whatever you didn’t do last!”
Life in the Holy Spirit is all about rhythm. When God spoke and the world was made, it became an active, ongoing, living creation. Across the canvas of time our lives are spread, and in the midst of time itself can be discerned a sacred rhythm designed by God. It is a balancing act of time spent in play, rest, worship, work, solitude, and community. We are creatures of choice, to be sure. We pursue activities and inactivity alike whenever we decide, and usually on our own terms. But in this season of Lent we do well to reflect on the Biblical pattern of work and rest reflected in the creation itself, and commanded by God in the call to keep Sabbath.
A fellow pastor once compared our lives to the dial on a washing machine; He said our lives have 3 basic settings—work, worship, and play/recreation (some say it “re-creation”). This pastor went on to say that when we find ourselves struggling spiritually it’s usually because the dial on the machine has slipped and we’re out of sync. In those times, instead of “being present in the moment,” we end up out of phase. That is, in his words, “we worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.” The remedy for the chaos which ensues is to recalibrate our lives and achieve a balanced rhythm of time again; even Jesus needed to go off a times and pray about the rhythm of his life, so that he “could be about his Father’s work.” Should it be any different for us as we follow him?
God has graciously provided within the creation a sacred rhythm and order for the times of our lives. We find peace when we find ourselves—both individually and as a church together—breathing in and out, then in again and out again…according to the design and direction of our loving God.
January 17, 2012