Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A rhythm of life

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,but you would have none of it.  16You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift!

Isaiah 30:15-16, TNIV

Retraining ourselves to hear God requires time and stillness and attentiveness, but our lives demand time, action, and attentiveness. For many, the call of work and family, church and  friends, seems to be unending, and it even seems very “spiritual” or good to always have our days filled with these things.

The problem with that is the “good thing” of rest never seems to elbow its way onto our schedule. People’s needs, car and home maintenance, opportunities to volunteer all seem more important than quiet. And so we, like the Israelites in Isaiah 30, find ourselves always riding away from the strength and salvation that God offers.

Because time for quiet and stillness doesn’t clamor for our attention, we have to prioritize it, schedule it, like an appointment that we simply cannot cancel. Every day cannot be spent meditating by a creek; every week cannot be a vacation at the beach. But there is a need for regular rhythms of renewal, and when I neglect those, my running is more and more in vain. There are daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly rhythms, and as I prioritize them, I find that I am refreshed and ready for the tasks of life, expected and unexpected alike.

Rhythms of exercise – I need to run or play hard at least three times a week.

Rhythms of retreat – one morning a week, I need to have extended time of reading, prayer (listening) and Scripture study. One day a month, I need to spend 5-7 hours in reading, prayer and Scripture, usually at a retreat center or out in a wooded park in Greensboro. Once a month I need to meet with my spiritual director.

Rhythms of daily grace – each day I need to orient myself to the truth of who God is and my position in Him and in His story. This means I spend time in Scripture and in prayer and in quiet.

Rhythms of family and marriage – each week I need time with my children, playing and being intentional about hanging out with them. Each month I need a one-to-one time with each child. Every 6 months, our family needs to take some sort of vacation. Every two weeks (at least) I need to take my wife out on a date. Every three to four months, I need to arrange a night or two away with my wife.

Rhythms of play – it’s OK for me to play disc golf, watch sports with friends, practice my banjo. Play is good for my soul, and I need to make time for it each week.

It can be hard to put these ideas into practice, and we have not failed if we let them get pushed aside. When we find that we have gotten off course, we simply pick ourselves up, dust off our planner, and try again to schedule in the rhythms of life that restore our soul.

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