Intentional Christian Rhythms

Have you ever been driving somewhere familiar (like the grocery for an emergency ice cream run) and zone out to such a degree that you find you’ve arrived with no memory of actually getting there? Driving is a pretty complex behavior! You navigated the turns, stops, and speeds to get to your hands on that pint of Double Chocolate goodness. You (hopefully) obeyed all the applicable laws. You reacted to small stimuli in steering, speed, and distance. And you arrived safely. With no memory of actually making all the decisions, reactions, and movements to get you to the parking lot of the local market! I’m sure all of us have had that awake-but-asleep-at-the-wheel experience.

It’s all too easy to live our lives with the same awake-but-asleep-at-the-wheel attitude. When we’re in the car, it’s typically an exception to the rule. We aren’t spacing out on every trip. But, in life, it’s different. I believe the number of people living in an “I’m fine” coma is the rule rather than the exception. It’s easy to move through life like the ball in a pinball machine, bouncing off bumpers, being guided through the machine of life by circumstances and other people’s agendas or actions. But, at some point, we wake up from that “I’m fine” coma because suddenly we aren’t fine anymore.

Maybe it’s something as simple as a milestone birthday. Or, maybe it’s a loss. Maybe it’s sitting in a doctor’s office finally understanding why you feel the way you do, but wishing you hadn’t heard what you’d just been told. Eventually, we come to a point in life where we wonder how we arrived there. How can I really be 50? How can it be that I’ll never hear my father’s voice again? How can I have cancer? How did this happen?

Our lives are measured in rhythms. Your heart affects every part of your body and beats about 115,000 times a day. Its rhythmic pumping means you’re free to keep making late-night ice cream runs.

“Rhythm is universal — all over the world, people respond to a steady tempo. Strong beats drive people to dance. Even young children seem to instinctively know how to move to music. Perhaps we are all so sensitive to rhythm because it drives so much of our biology. Our hearts beat rhythmically, and we wake and sleep to circadian rhythms. These intrinsic rhythms are associated with rhythmic activity in the brain.” (Debra Speert, PhD from BrainFacts.org)

You have rhythms in your life, beyond your biology. Your schedule, your behavior, and your emotions are influenced by rhythms. You eat, sleep, and work according to rhythms. You celebrate holidays, gather to worship, and cook meals according to rhythms. How many of those rhythms are you aware of? We breathe rhythmically, but that rhythm happens whether we’re aware of it or not. When we’re in an “I’m fine” coma, we aren’t usually aware of all the rhythms that push and pull our life either.

As a Christian in America, it’s very easy to fit all the “supposed to’s” into the rhythms of our lives. We make room on Sunday for worship services, we might volunteer, or serve in some capacity. We quickly learn the cultural expectations of a believer in 21st century America.

But cultural Christianity is just another kind of “I’m fine” coma. God wants so much more for you! He’s not interested in religious activity for the sake of religious activity. He’s longing for a personal relationship. Amos prophesied in a time of idolatry and God told his people through Amos:

intentional christian rhythmsI hate, I despise, your feasts!
I can’t stand the stench
of your solemn assemblies.
Even if you offer me
your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
I will have no regard
for your fellowship offerings of fattened cattle.
Take away from me the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice flow like water,
and righteousness, like an unfailing stream. (Amos 5:21-24)

Our worship, our life, needs to be lived from a heart intentionally surrendered to Christ. God’s not interested in our sacrifices if our hearts are far from him.

How do we make sure we’re not drifting in a Christian “I’m fine” coma? By intentionally introducing rhythms in our lives that grow us into the people God wants us to be.

He’s not designed us to be fearful wallflowers. He’s not created us to be bystanders in our communities. He didn’t sacrifice himself for us to have us drift through life only noticing when our comfort is disrupted. We were meant to spread his glory here on earth. We’re meant to love freely, deeply, unconditionally, and sacrificially. We’re meant for battle, for bringing his light into dark places. And this earth is full of dark places. We’re not supposed to avoid them. We’re supposed to invade them. Invade them with love. With hope. And with faith.

Your life is in great measure determined by its rhythms. If you don’t intentionally choose those rhythms, Satan will be happy to choose them for you. He’ll choose the ones that keep you too busy to spend time with God. Too self-absorbed, schedule-driven, or paycheck-focused to notice hurting people nearby. He’ll choose rhythms that are full of strife and discontent.

You don’t have to live that way! You have control over the rhythms in your life. You can choose to create rhythms of gratitude, peace, study, and love. You can choose to saturate your life in scripture. You can choose to live by faith. To trust. To fearlessly abandon yourself to the call of the God who loves you.

You were meant for more than an “I’m fine” life. Instead, craft rhythms in your life that support your seeking after God with your whole heart. That guide you in abiding in Christ. That encourage radical love. Rhythms of work and rest. Gratitude and worship. Seeking and listening. Rhythms that use the gifts God has given you to love the people he’s placed in your path.

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