For centuries, the Ten Commandments have stood as pillars of life for many, many people – Jew and Christian alike. There is something very fundamental about these guidelines, for anyone desiring to lead a moral life under the guidance of God. In fact, I frequently use this analogy when it comes to how we can live the best life possible: Let’s say you have just purchased a new electronic appliance – maybe a new multi-disk DVD/CD player. If you want to get the most out of it – proper functioning, full use of available features, etc – you really should read and follow the instruction manual provided by the manufacturer. Sure, you could get the thing to turn on and operate if you skip the manual and get right to it. However, you will most likely miss some key features, and may well run into some frustrating problems. Reading the manual just makes sense. Follow the guidelines of the one who created the equipment, and you will get the best possible functioning. The same is true for our lives. Our Creator (God) has provided us with an instruction manual (the Bible) to teach us how to get the most out of our lives. In fact, Jesus repeatedly says he came to give us life to the full, or the abundant life.
“Okay,” you may be saying to yourself, “that’s all fine and good, but what does it have to do with the title of this post – ‘Rhythm’?” Here is my point. I’m not writing this post to convince you to read the Bible as your guideline for living, although I wholeheartedly believe we all should do so for the best life possible. Instead, I want to raise a question and a concern. For those of us who still hold up the Ten Commandments as basic guidelines for life, why do we completely ignore one of them?!? Oh, we wouldn’t think of murdering someone. We do our best not to covet (although that one seems pretty tough in our stuff-oriented society). We don’t commit adultery (does it count if we just look and imagine?). OK, so we’ve probably all got plenty of spiritual work to do. But what about “Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy?” Not even any struggling with that one. We, in modern/post-modern Christendom, have simply written that one off as a command of “the old law,” and dismiss it from our spiritual/religious framework.
One thing I have come to understand in my years of following Christ, working in ministry, and walking with people through counseling is this: God always has a good reason for every command He gives us. Always. His laws and rules are never arbitrary or given just to see what we will do with them. There is always a very good reason for each and every command, and it is always to our benefit. Every time. Period.
I am not advocating a return to the Old Testament sacrificial system, because one of the key reasons Jesus came was to become our one true sacrifice, taking away all our sins once and for all. However, the Ten Commandments are so fundamental that they seem to far transcend the sacrificial system. But that Sabbath thing is just so inconvenient, and it seems so Old Testament, that we pass it over and keep filling up our days, week after week after week. I believe God gave us this command for one simple reason – He knows we need our rest. He designed us to function best with certain rhythms in our lives. We need to work. We need to be active. But we also need to stop. And rest. And be still. And reflect. And pray. And just leave open space in our week for God to come in and speak. Most of the time, most of us keep our schedules filled to marginless capacity, and our lives humming to the sound of so many kinds of noise, that we can’t reasonably expect to be in a position to hear God’s voice when He does speak to us. We are the busiest, most stressed-out society to ever inhabit the earth. We need to rest. We need to get back to the rhythm intended by our Creator and outlined for us in our Instruction Manual.
Well, I’ll stop for now. It’s time for me to get some rest. I’ll continue this thought another time. For now – make space in your week for quiet stillness. It is profoundly holy, and it can powerfully restore us to the proper rhythms for which our Creator designed us to be at top functioning. Get out to the Parish Hermitage if you possibly can. Check out the Bluebonnet Swamp. Find your way to your hammock or porch swing. Enjoy the quiet of your nearest public library. Rent “Chariots of Fire” and watch it on a relaxing Saturday at home (you’ll get an eye-opening perspective on the Sabbath). Make use of the sanctuary of your church on a time other than Sunday morning. Wherever you go (or stay, for that matter), find a place and space where you can learn to be still. God is waiting to bless you there – with a life of great abundance. The world can get by without your efforts for one day a week, no matter how demanding your job or life role. (We’ll talk about pride another time.)