Back To Hurry

Rob Campbell   -  

I think most of us feel the busyness of life ratchet up a couple notches once Thanksgiving hits. We enjoy the time of year for sure but we also feel the pace change. Perhaps its the weather changing or maybe its just the disruption to our normal week that causes that internal clock we have to be just a little off. I thought this might be a good time to recall some thoughts about the subject of having rule of life. Back in April of 2020, we did a couple of midweek talks via Facebook Live on this subject. I am writing about this now because I was reminded that I needed to go back to those notes and really do some work at sharpening my own habits of life during this busy holiday season.

A rule of life is simply the rhythms and habits that you intentionally put in place to help manage your own mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. Rule of life as a discipline has been talked about for hundreds of years and there is some really helpful material on the subject. I came across some of this while I was on my sabbatical a couple of years ago and have been trying to work on my own life in more strategic ways since then. I actually prefer to refer to this as my rhythms of life instead of calling them rules. I think “rule” for me conjures up strictness and legalism so I prefer to use the word rhythm. I also like the word “rhythm” because it reminds me of the rhythms of nature like seasons or the rhythms of the ocean with the tide.

Why should we talk about habits or rhythms of life? Well, according to Romans 12:2 we are being “conformed” or pressed into a mold. This happens because we are alive and part of a culture and live in a physical world. We are to press against this conforming by renewing our minds and presenting our bodies to God. A Christian is in a joint process with God of being transformed into Jesus’ image (1 Cor. 3:9). We are called to “work out our salvation” in a way that is careful and reverent (Phil. 2:12-13) which certainly means it is not haphazard. It is really important that we “keep a close watch” on ourselves (1 Tim. 4:16). My concise definition of a rhythm of life is a set of practices and relational rhythms that make space for abiding in Christ.

My aim in this blog article is to write about developing a set of formation practices (rhythms of life) to help you abide in Christ so that you can experience love for God deeply and be able to be fully present to love others well.

This topic can be quite lengthy and overwhelming especially if you have not done much reading about this before. What I would like to do here is only give a few practices that I have sought to develop in the last handful of years. Let me say straight out that I am not going to talk about Bible reading and devotional practices here. I will leave that to another article as it is deserves its own separate discussion. The reason I am going to write about some others here is to give room for things that we don’t discuss much. I think we can sometimes put all of our spiritual development in the bucket of what we can refer to as a “morning quiet time” or a “devotional time,” and then neglect to talk about other formation rhythms.

1. Weekly Sabbath rest – On the seventh day of creation, God rested (Gen. 2:2). What does Sabbath rest mean? It means stopping and resting and it also means worshipping and delighting. There is definitely a need to have a separate blog post about this topic. There has been an increase in the amount of writing about Sabbath rest which I believe is due to the non-stop, 24/7 culture we live in. News is always available and we can be connected all the time via social media and cell phones. A store is always open somewhere for something we need including fast food. We can work or read something or be always online if we want. When will we unplug? What will it take for us to stop? Worldwide shutdowns for the pandemic, albeit creating frustrations and many strong opinions, did present an opportunity people weren’t even searching for where we had to assess life and work. We were confronted with the pace of life when the world pace changed. To be sure, Sabbath rest living takes work and there is no one template for what to do and how to do it. But the principles of stopping/ resting and worshipping/ delighting are the aim. What are you doing to observe this principle? Can you stop? Are you taking time to delight?

2. A second formation principle for me of a rhythm of life is developing daily gratitude. Admittedly I am not real good at this consistently. What I have tried to practice is noticing small yet repeated moments where I can take a breath and be grateful. The first light of a sunrise or a beautiful sunset. The warmth and smell of a cup of espresso first thing in the morning. Moments of time riding somewhere in the car with one of the kids and how that fills up my soul. I have also found common grace to be an area yielding a harvest of various thoughts on gratitude. Someone passionate about their craft or cause. A beautiful song or concert and the awe in the gifts that humans bless the world with. I am watching now a series on men who fought in WWII and I am overcome with those acts of courage and heroism from ordinary people. Developing daily gratitude is something I feel is a long cultivation process but I think will yield much more harvest the more seeds that are sown. What are you thankful for today?

There are two more important practices for me that I will write about in a future article. Again I want to state the purpose of this exercise: to develop a set of formation practices (rhythms of life) to help us abide in Christ so that we can experience love for God deeply and be able to be fully present to love others well.

Is it time to evaluate what slowing down looks like for you?