A few weeks ago I wrote about how Jesus modeled for us a healthy rhythm of life – a perfect rhythm between rest and work; abiding and fruitfulness; pruning and growing. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – taking the time to look at my life and looking for places where my rhythm may have gotten off track. While my rhythm is generally pretty good weekly, and monthly, and even yearly, I am surprised to discover that in my daily life I am much better at maintaining a routine then I am at living a healthy rhythm. What’s the difference?
By routine I mean doing things with regularity… the same time, the same way. I’m good at that. I get up early most mornings to read my Bible and pray, I work plenty of hours and am generally productive, I exercise three times a week, I spend time with my family each day, and I take Mondays off. I have a pretty good routine that allows me to accomplish the things I set out to do over the course of any given day. Routine is a good thing… but it isn’t the same thing as rhythm.
My routine helps me get things done. It helps me check things off my list… even things that should be restful or times of abiding. Rhythm, however, is not just about getting things done, it is about bearing fruit and there is a difference. The first commandment in the Bible is for humanity to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28 ), but in the natural world nothing bears fruit all the time. Any tree that bears fruit has to go through a time of pruning and rest once the fruit is harvested so that it can bear fruit again in the next season. You and me are designed the same way. Far too often, however, I do things like staying up too late, which affects my time in scripture and prayer in the morning. I still do it (routine), but it’s hard to abide in God’s presence and listen for God’s voice when I’m short on sleep (rhythm). Far too often I stay at work longer than I need to (routine), which affects my family time… giving me less quality time to tend to the relationships that matter to me the most (rhythm). Make sense?
Routine is a good thing, but simply maintaining a routine will never produce the kind of fruit that God can produce if we tend to our rhythm.
Jesus, give us the wisdom to follow your lead and live as you lived. Teach us to live in rhythm, abiding in you and bearing fruit through the work you have called us to.