A few years ago I remember writing a newsletter about the ‘rhythm’ of the Gospel. Recently, I watched a video about how God’s presence in the earth is like a song that just keeps playing and playing and playing. It’s a song uninterrupted by what goes on in the world. It is steady, unchanging and seemingly able to be played without being ‘drowned out’ by all the things going on around it.
Not long ago, if you were the parents of girls, you would have had to learn a few things about jumping rope. It used to be a ritual for little girls. Even the schools they attended had large, grass jumping ropes. We had three little girls. All three jumped rope. I even tried it 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. The rope, or in some cases ropes, were ‘whirlwinds’ of rope! I can still see one of our daughters standing at the side, ‘semi-stepping’ (timing) into the rope, waiting for just the right moment to ‘step in’. They needed to get into the rhythm of the thing in order to get into the thing! That image reminded me of getting into the Life as the Father would have it for us.
Our lives are like those whirlwinds. We are so busy. 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. Many are searching for a fountain of youth. We’re dieting. We’re exercising. In all this business, we look for purpose. On top of that, we ‘gotta’ have transportation, got to get some health insurance, got bills to pay, gas is going up to $4 a gallon, got to eat, have to mow the grass before it rains, and when’s that soccer game? There is this meeting and that meeting. Don’t forget the braces for ‘Sally’s smile’, for some people the pool needs shocking, there’s the wedding to get organized and pay for, need to back up the computer just in case some virus comes along and destroys all that important information on the hard drive. Got to re-schedule the dentist appointment. Supposed to meet the wife downtown at 6pm, deliver the girls at 7pm. When is there ever going to be time to water the flowers? You know the drill.
I remember a story told by Max Lucado. It was about a 60 year old man that had just finished running in his 50th iron-man contest. Max asked him how he did it at that age and at that pace. The man’s reply was, “I start out very slow and taper off after that.” That’s a pretty good formula for the Christian life, I think. We have to slow down enough from the hustle and bustle to hear the heart of God. We need to taper off enough to make quality decisions about how to spend our time. Any time we are in fear or in a hurry it’s very difficult to hear the voice of God.
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 born again, we, as a second step of our choosing, can enter into the life-style of the Gospel. The Christian Life is like a dance- you can get into the ‘pattern’ of it and it becomes a lot easier to get into the 1-2-3/1-2-3 of it. Good baseball pitchers have been said to get into a rhythm with their pitches. Wonderful musicians have to get with the beat of their song. Gifted artists seem to get into a rhythm with their works. As successful Christians, we will have to get into the rhythm of giving, of forgiving, of loving, of caring, of hoping, and of listening. It’s not like a chess game where we make a single move and then stop and watch to see if God is going to make the next move or not. It’s more like stacking boxes one on top of another. It’s an accumulation of making moves without stopping to evaluate their individual results. It becomes a life-style of living the Gospel, knowing what to do and doing it without evaluating each move. Finding our rhythm is like jumping rope- once in, it’s not nearly as difficult as finding the timing for ‘getting’ into it. That first step is the hardest part of jumping rope. You know that if you have tried to get in without getting into the rhythm, you get rope all around your head and shoulders.
A couple days ago, one of our daughters sent me a picture taken from the latest space shuttle trip. It’s a picture of hurricane Dean. It shows the very center of that storm, the ‘eye of the hurricane.’ In the center of a terrible storm like that, with winds and destruction all around, there’s a place that’s relatively calm. You can actually stand in the ‘eye’, right in the middle of that storm, and be perfectly safe. Entering into the rhythm of the Christian Life is like standing in the ‘eye’ with the world whirling all round. Right in the middle of the war on terror, in the middle of our financial pressure, in the heat of a medical crisis, there is a peaceful place! But, we’re not going to be able to enter into it by just ‘talking about it.’ We will have to get into the rhythm of the ‘God life.’ We’ll have to take a first step to get in there! Getting into rhythm with the Life of God puts us into the center of the ‘whirlwinds’ of this life. There will be things going on all around you but you will not have to struggle each day just to stand. You will not ‘pull your hair out’ trying to come up with every solution. You will enter into ‘trusting’ God in a way that you have not been able to do thus far. To experience that, we will have to do our part first. We will have to begin to time the thing, get into that Life of God. His Life is a system of living that changes us and sometimes the things around us. Once we step inside the whirlwind we need to keep doing the giving, the loving, the forgiving and the hoping over and over again. We can’t stop and look around to see if we are doing OK. We will just need to keep ‘doing’ the things that God told us would work for us, even if they appear, at any given moment, as though they are not working for us. After all, isn’t that the very nature of Faith, hoping for those things not seen? Man, once I was inside that whirlwind of rope, it was easy to jump the rope. Inside the Life of God, there are blessings to be discovered! Getting into the ‘rhythm of God’ sets in motion a life-style of God. Will everything be perfect? No! Will it always go well? Probably not! Is every day a ‘picnic’? No, might be a war that day! Can we be blessed in spite of that? Yes!
There’s 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! We will have to become like Radar O’Reilly on Mash, ‘wait for it!’ Some days we will not be able to see it, but Radar O’Reilly could always anticipate something happening long before anyone else. It will come if we are in that center place, that secret place that God has prepared for us. Give and expect it to grow. Love and expect it to multiply. Trust and watch the Father be trustworthy. That’s being in the rhythm of God. Keep doing even when things don’t seem to be working for you. You need to stop looking back to see if it’s working for you. Going back is to step back into the whirlwind. According to Scripture, going back is seven times worse! Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Just do it! Over and over, do it!
That video I mentioned referred to the Life of God being like a song and we can either enter into it ‘in tune’ with His heart and purpose, or we can go through this life ‘out of tune’ with it. Entering in tune, while on frequency, will make the Christian Life enjoyable no matter what comes along. However, just like an orchestra playing, being out of tune with God, doesn’t create a very pleasant ‘sound’ at all in your life. Getting in rhythm with the orchestra leader makes for a wonderful, beautiful song. And don’t forget, God’s song goes on and on even when the noise around us seems so very loud. Listen close and you can still hear that still, small voice of God.