(A repost of a former thought…relevant for me today)
Rhythm. I never spell that word right. Perhaps if I were a heart specialist spending my days examining and checking rhythms, or a professor of music, pounding out rhythms to students, I would find the word more natural to use and spell. As hard, though, as it is to wrap my brain around spelling it, it’s even harder for me to wrap my spirit around it.
As I reflected upon rhythm, I was reminded of the movie, “Kate and Leopold.” In the movie a man from the past is transported to modern day. His presence changes the life of a marketing executive who is all push and drive. Late in the movie, when Kate finally believes who Leo is, she asks him what he misses from his time. He tells her he misses the pace and rhythm of life.
When Jesus looked out on the crowd, he was moved with compassion. He saw how horribly out of sync they were with the Father and he told them: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)
I’m a pairs junkie. I love to watch great partners dance. I am easily sucked into watching pairs figure skating. I don’t think they televise nearly enough pairs/doubles tennis. I love to see how two become one. It’s as if they transcend anticipating the other’s moves and begin to beat as one. I think that’s what Jesus was inviting the people, inviting us, to do.
Last night when I got home from work, I was spent. I had put in three twelve hour days in a row. I wanted to crash, but my three year old grandson was here. I love him. He is the funnest thing on earth. His favorite thing to do is chase. We run through the house like race cars. Last night he was lapping me because I just didn’t have the energy to keep up. After his mommy picked him, I sat down to type this devotional. I had written most of it earlier in the day. I had felt good about being ahead. When I went to save what I had typed, I hit no. And just that quickly, it was all gone. I sat in my chair, staring at the blank computer screen in disbelief. I was so tired that I erased everything. That’s physical weariness.
We can become just as weary spiritually by keeping a pace that we were not designed for. Think about it. Back in the Garden, what did God and Adam do? They weren’t practicing for a marathon. They walked together. Enoch walked with God, and was no more. Jesus walked with the two on the Emmaus Road. It seems that God’s pace is very different from our own. And when we might expect God to walk, he ran. He ran out to meet the wayward Prodigal Son and welcome him home.
Unforced rhythms of grace. I love that phrase. As I think about it, I am aware of the rhythmic ticking of the grandfather clock across the room. Its beat is so natural and reassuring. It’s very unlike the beat at work. To keep people working out at a healthy clip, the music at Curves has to be within a specific beat—fast. Some of the remakes of songs make me laugh, because those songs were never intended to be sung as fast as our beat requires. Think about “O Holy Night” or “Word of God Speak” at 180 beats per minute. Ludicrous. Ridiculous. Unnatural.
So is much of our living. The problem is this: sometimes we are called to a fast paced life. The demands require much of us. I would never presume to say we need to return to the pace of the Amish (though recently, the thought held some intrigue for me). I would, however, suggest that we need to check ourselves. Can we honestly say with Paul, “’For in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28, NIV)”? That’s what Jesus was inviting us to. When we live life at our pace, we are out of sync with the Creator of life, and we will always feel out of step.
If we are tired of being tired, perhaps the solution is to find those unforced rhythms of grace and learn how they will work in our lives.
Rhythm Postscript and A Random Thought
Rhythm Postscript: After posting a devotional on rhythm, I should have anticipated facing challenges to my rhythm. But I didn’t. Somehow as I was preparing for work , I found myself behind schedule. I hadn’t eaten breakfast. I had my tea, but I knew I’d need more than just a banana. I decided to grab an egg biscuit at Burger King. It’s on the way, there’s usually no one in line, and it’s under a buck.
I pulled into BK and there were two vehicles in front of me. Sigh. This is going to put me way behind. The first vehicle is a van. I can see the driver in his side view mirror. He’s arguing with someone on a cell phone and tying to place an order at the same time. While he’s doing that I catch a glimpse of the woman in the car in front of me. She’s using her side mirror to help her put on her mascara. The two cars behind me probably wondered about the crazy lady laughing hysterically in the blue Jeep Liberty.
I read this quote from Thoreau this week: If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
What beat are you hearing? The Father is hoping you’re keeping pace!
And one more thought: Part of the trouble I have with spelling RHYTHM is that I want to spell it RHYTHYM…It’s never good to have too many Why’s….