We all have rhythm in our lives.
Habits are rhythms – good and bad. Skills are often rhythms. All kinds of unconscious rhythms – like walking, brushing the hair out of your eyes, checking your cell phone is in your pocket…
The question is not whether we have rhythm but what..and the challenge for us is getting past the whatever, the often unconscious and unchosen nature of our rhythms to the what. When it comes to spiritual rhythms, we see Jesus lived a life with all kinds of different rhythms:
Early on in Mark’s gospel, in chapter 1, we see him going on a 40 day retreat:
12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan.
Jesus is led into a place of solitude – and what’s interesting is that a central part of Jesus’ wrestling with how he will choose to live in the face of some pretty big opportunities to please himself are the scriptures. Matthew expands on what happened in chapter 4 – 3 times Jesus is faced with the opportunity to use his divinity to focus on his physical needs, show off his power and be a King who rules rather than serves. 3 times it’s the mirror of the scriptures that helps him to find his way. The scriptures are a key part of the “what” for Jesus.
Again, in chapter 1 of Mark’s gospel:
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
This is a regular rhythm for Jesus – finding solitude, creating space for prayer. For connection with God. This decision to carve out time specifically for the presence of God is a key part of the what. Whether it’s time set aside like this example or whether we set aside ourselves moment by moment to acknowledge God’s presence in the moment.
Or in Mark 6:31
31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
It’s a time of rest in the context of community. It’s in essence a mini retreat for Jesus and his small group of followers.
Simply living out of prayer and community – can lead us to a faith which is not grounded in anything beyond our opinion and experience. Authentic Christian faith is not anchored, and it is quickly twisted.
Simply living out of the scriptures and community – can lead us to a faith where we read the bible, but it never gets to read us.
We elevate information over transformation. Becoming people knowing not people growing.
The truth is we need all three. We need rhythms of engagement of the scriptures, of prayer and community. As we move from the unconscious rhythms of whatever to a sustaining rhythm that knows what’s what.