The Rhythm of Life
I’VE BEEN PLAYING DRUMS FOR ABOUT 10 YEARS
I’ve been playing drums for about 10 years now and I love it. When I get the opportunity to drum and I’m in the zone, I get so into it. For me it’s all about the rhythm, timing, endurance and creativity.
I’m also a Christian and I love God, and when I’m in the zone, seeing God at work in my life and other people’s lives I love it, no other feeling beats that spiritual buzz. The problem I find is that it’s not necessarily a constant thing. I’m a 24/7 Christian, with God at the centre of my life; surely I should be feeling this all the time? I don't.
So how do we keep in rhythm with God and what exactly does it involve? By keeping in rhythm with God I am talking about our own personal spiritual life. How in sync with God are we each day? How much are we seeking God’s heart, getting to know Him more and allowing room for Him to use us? The phrase ‘spiritual discipline’ might come to mind. To be in rhythm with God we need to be having our daily quiet times, reading lots of Bible and having a healthy prayer life. Yes, they are all essential parts of our relationship with God, but I want to unpack this more and look at some of the realities that get in the way of this seemingly theoretically organised way of life.
TO BE IN RHYTHM WITH GOD WE NEED TO BE HAVING OUR DAILY QUIET TIMES
Just you and God
I very recently returned from spending a period of time in France working as a part of my University degree. Before going, my mind was all about finding a church, keeping up spiritual discipline and basically growing in my faith whilst in a new environment. I was, however, somewhat disappointed by my initial expectations. I was living on my own, going to a French church where the young people were not like my close Christian friends and the way they do church over there was just not the same. Crap, where has my motivation and spiritual buzz gone? I soon realised that the absence of my usual surroundings and Christian friends played a significant part in shaping my understanding of living a life in rhythm with God. It was the gift of grace that brought me into a one to one relationship with God, and I needed to really reflect on what that meant and prioritise that in my life, despite having to get used to church in a different style and trying to get to know new people in a different language.
I’M TOO LAZY FOR SUCH DISCIPLINE.
Now I’d like to say that from this realisation I invested in a solid spiritual discipline of really getting into the Bible all the time, watching and listening to sermons galore, but that’s not exactly what happened - I’m too lazy for such discipline. However, I saw a significant change in my prayer life and my need for God in a time of unfamiliarity. God blessed me immensely with faith and assurance in His plan for my life; that He would be using this time to grow me in a way which beat my expectations (Ephesians 2:8). God is interested first and foremost in Him and you. That is our number one commandment, to love God. That should be the basis of our spiritual nourishing. How do we keep in rhythm with God? We learn it directly through Him, from Him and with Him. It’s starts with just you and Him.
Routine and schedule
Now surely the best way to do the above is to have a strict regime of Bible study, prayer and quiet time? Well, yes of course the more we invest in God for this, the more we will get out of it. There are loads of ways we can do this: sermon after sermon, book after book, chapters of scripture, hours of prayer etc. But let’s look at our motives here. Are we doing this because it looks good to others, because it makes us feel good about ourselves, raking in the holy points? Or, do we just do it out of habit and well, because we always have done? What I am trying to say is that spiritual discipline is what aids us to keep in rhythm with God. Not a discipline for the sake of it. Otherwise this will most likely get boring and become a legalistic exercise.
WE ARE NOT LIVING BY GRACE WITH A GENUINE FREEDOM OF CHRIST.
I want to refer to Galatians 5. Paul here is writing to the Galatians about freedom in Christ through grace, living by the spirit and keeping in step with the spirit at all times. If we feel obliged to carry out these disciplined exercises to please God and to fill the quota, then we are not living by grace, with a genuine freedom of Christ. We are justifying our relationship with God through the works we do. Equally if we do it because we always have done, then that’s not living by the spirit, that’s limiting ourselves to our own brains and logic. God’s rhythm is dynamic; the Holy Spirit is ridiculously dynamic. We have to follow that. It isn’t a straightforward drumbeat. We have let the spirit consume us, to give us this rhythm. Let's use our personal routine, discipline and prayer life to be more and more open to this vibrant and enduring spiritual lifestyle, to see fruit in our relationship with God and others, Christian and non-Christian.
I FANCIED PLAYING VIDEO GAMES AND JUST DOSSING!
I messed up, again…
I think I could take a pretty accurate guess in saying that a lot of us out there struggle with discipline. I’m speaking to myself mainly. We get lazy; we find other seemingly more fun things to do. In fact what it often comes down to is temptation and giving in to our sinful nature. Of course the devil doesn’t want us to be keeping in sync with God’s rhythm. He wants us to be in sync with worldly things, pleasures and ideology. As a result we are susceptible to losing our discipline and losing our motivation. We no longer want to spend time with God and seek God's rhythm in the way we live. If we are not careful, this can lead to a downward spiral. “Oh crap, I messed up today again, I didn’t fit quiet time in quite how I wanted to because I fancied playing video games and just dossing!” Maybe I looked at something on the computer I shouldn’t have. Political issues and current affairs boggle our minds and distract us (speaking form personal experience here). We feel distanced from God, we don’t feel worthy of coming to Him in prayer, and we don’t feel it possible to get back into the spiritual swing of it all.
Well, we certainly can’t earn it back. But the Gospel has done and will do for us again. Grace allows us back into that good place. A verse relating to this, which I love, is Hebrews 4:16 "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need". We don’t crawl back to God hoping He will forgive us and get back some of that spiritual rhythm we used to have. We turn to God with confidence that we can carry on where we left off and allow God to continue growing us. If we don’t accept this, we are essentially rejecting the Gospel. Get back on your feet and encourage one another to do this. Look out for each other and each other’s spiritual growth. We need to learn the discipline of actively receiving grace, to keep in that rhythm with God and avoid syncopation and fragmentation.
Renewal and Transformation
Everyday is different. Situations, relationships, problems etc, change on a daily basis. God knows this, He is the author, the Alpha and Omega, thus He sees it all. A spiritual life with God is dynamic. We can’t just accept life to pass on gently day-to-day and for our minds to instantly become more and more knowledgeable and wise. As I previously said, we need the Spirit to consume us and change us. Not just once or every now and again, but everyday. Romans 12:2 reads:
‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.’
We are no longer slogging along enslaved to sin and just following the crowd
That is liberating and exciting. The Holy Spirit given freely to us transforms and changes us. We are no longer slogging along enslaved to sin and just following the crowd. We are transformed and renewed every day to fit with God’s will. So how do we keep in rhythm with this? We ask the Holy Spirit to be doing this daily, that God would be speaking to us and keeping our eyes and ears open to what is happening around us. We want to be carrying out God’s will, becoming more like Him and keeping in step with the Spirit. Life is hard, and being a Christian doesn’t necessarily make that easier. But, being in rhythm with the one, perfect Creator of the Universe is the most exciting way to live your life, and it sure tops drum practice.
How do you find keeping God in your life rhythms?