Back in the day, when Jane and I raised three girls, there was moment in each girl’s life when it was all about jumping rope. It was a ritual for girls. Every little girl that we knew had a jump rope. Even the schools our daughters attended had large, grass jumping ropes. I tried ‘jumping’ a couple times. I still remember some of the lingo: ‘hot peppers’ and ‘double dutch.’ I also remember that the secret to jumping rope was the timing. I mean, the rope, or in some cases the ropes, were ‘whirlwinds’ of rope! I can still imagine one of our daughters standing at the side, ‘semi-stepping’ into the rope, waiting for just the right time to ‘step in’. They needed to get into the rhythm of the thing to get into the thing! Remembering that ‘whirlwind’ of ropes reminded me of how life is, and especially the Christian Life.
Our lives are like those whirlwinds. We’re trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. We’re attempting to become financially secure; most everyone is trying to ‘get theirs’ before someone else comes along and takes ‘theirs’ from them. Most are searching for a fountain of youth. We’re dieting. We’re exercising. We look for purpose. Ever since the Garden of Eden incident, the children of Adam and Eve have ‘paddled upstream’ against so many daily struggles. In the beginning, Adam and Eve lived in an environment that fostered Peace. I doubt that they knew what a ‘whirlwind’ was. Now, earth comes with its daily ‘hard-labor’.
That’s why it’s so critical for believers to enter into His Rest. Doing that is very much like entering that jump rope. Having been made alive to God, we can then enter into the life-style of the Gospel. Jesus said, ‘If you abide in my Word, then you are my disciples, and you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you Free.’ Just as in this Scripture verse, the Christian life is a process, one step at a time, a journey each day. We move along the journey, possibly to find freedom each day! I mean you have to go through something; we need to get in ‘order’ with God, to discover the fullness of God. Remember: Body, Soul and Spirit. Faith, Hope and Love. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Things ‘that were, that are and that are to come.’ The Outer court, Inner court and Holy of Holies of the tabernacle. All those are the order of God’s universe. We move through places with God, in patterns ordered by God. To get to the Peaceful place of God, we will need to move in His patterns in our daily lives. We will need to get into the ‘rhythm’ of God, get into His ways and not just our ways.
I have used this story before but let’s just suppose we are going to have a seminar on chairs. We can get coffee table books showing us pictures of all kinds of chairs. We can purchase DVD’s that show us how chairs are designed, manufactured and sold. We can travel to factories and look at all kinds of chairs. We can buy a chair or buy hundreds of chairs, but having done all those things, you’ll still not really ‘know’ the true nature and purpose of a chair until you’ve sat down on one! You must put all your weight on a chair before you know everything there is to know about a chair. Before that, you had a theory about chairs, you had ideas about how a chair works and even speculated on a chair’s purpose. However, you have to actually sit in a chair to know all about chairs. The Gospel is the same. All the reading, the memorizing, the attending Bible studies, traveling to conferences and discussions about the Gospel will only leave you with a philosophy about the Gospel. Until you have put you weight (your life) on the Gospel you really don’t know the fullness of the Gospel. To find that peaceful place inside this earthly whirlwind, we will need to enter into the center of that whirlwind. That’s where God is, that’s where our Peace is.
You’ve heard the phrase ‘eye of the hurricane’. In the center of those storms, with winds and destruction all around, there is a place where it’s calm. You can actually stand in the ‘eye’, right in the middle of that storm, and be perfectly safe. The Gospel will do that for us. Right in the middle of the war on terror, in the middle of financial pressure, in the heat of a medical crisis, there is a Peaceful Place! Jesus referred to it, expected it. But, you’re not going to be able to enter into it by just ‘talking about it’. We will have to get in rhythm with the ‘God life’; we’ll have to take a step to get in there! Just as we must get into the rhythm of the rope to enter into ‘hot peppers’, we’ll need to get into the rhythm of God as well. Become a giver, not just with money, but attitude as well. Become an encourager, not just someone needing encouragement all the time. Become someone that is externally minded, aware of others’ hopes and needs. The center of that storm, it can be stress-less. It is calm inside that place once you get in the ‘center’. There will be things going on all around you but you will not have to struggle each day. You will not ‘pull your hair out’ trying to come up with every solution. You will enter into a state of trusting God in a way that you have not been able to do thus far.
Will everything be perfect? No! Will it always go well? Probably not! Is every day a ‘picnic’? No– might be a war that day! We may not be able to avoid the war but we can know that God is with us even in that terrible place. God’s blessings come just the same. There is a special meaning to the Hebrew word for blessing, “r’racha.” In the Hebrew language words are either male or female. In this case, the word “r’racha” is female. Its essence is that one blessing becomes two blessings, and so on. You see, “r’racha” has the ability and the nature to multiply itself! One blessing produces many more! They will come if we are in that center place, His Rest, that secret place that God has prepared for us. Get in rhythm with God. Give and expect it to grow, Love and expect it to multiply, Trust and watch the Father be Trustworthy. That’s the rhythm of God. The world will rub against us, and that can chafe and even irritate us, but keep doing Faith even when things don’t seem to be working for you. Look, there are three ways to live life: being evil and separated from God, being good and yet separated from God or being alive because we are right in the middle of the rhythm of God. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. We need to stop looking back to see if Faith is working. We’ll have to step forward into God’s rhythm, just like our daughters stepped into that jump rope. God’s rhythm is just simply doing life in the way that God says works for us and avoiding life the way the world brings it to us. Going back is to step back into the whirlwind, and according to Scripture, going back is seven times worse! We should never give up. Just do it! Over and over, do it! That faithful ‘action’ will eventually produce a ‘kingdom’ blessing from the Life of God, and our worldly experience will be interrupted by evidences of God in our lives; we will be able to count them, experience them and trust for them as we abide in the Rest to be found in the center of this storm. Our girls never ran away from that ‘double-dutch’… they ran straight into the center and got into its rhythm.