The Rhythm of God

16-Sept-2006

What would we do without friends in this life…?
What would we do without those that we spend time with each day, those that add the color to our lives and enrich the paths we walk on throughout the week and months and years…?

My life, for one, would be greatly diminished without those God brings across my path. I might have nothing to write about and no new ideas to share without the blessings others bring to my days. As I finish up one message, I usually have no idea what the next one will contain. As the days go by, I enjoy the company of many who share their stories with me and I am also allowed to share mine with them. Much of what I write starts with a flicker, a word spoken, a memory shared, a lesson learned, a trial talked through, a blessing expressed…the list could be endless, but somewhere along the way, in a way that continues to astound me, a new message will start to formulate and grow and be added to until the time comes when I begin to write…and out it comes, and I see all the pieces that God has been putting together to bring me, and perhaps those who read what I write, into a closer relationship with Him. It is a joy to watch the process, a joy to write it through--and when it is finished, it is as if I have a clean slate to build upon for the next week…and so it begins again…

This week, once again, I wondered, “What will it be Lord?” and then just riding along in a car with a good friend of mine, she started talking about being in a rhythm with God. How being out of that rhythm is a difficult place to be, and when we know our Lord, we know the rhythm of His walk, and to be in step with Him is right where we want to be--anywhere else just does not feel right.

As I heard her speak of this, I could relate to what she was saying. As I sit at my desk at work, many people pass by. As the receptionist, I am out in the main part of our church office, and anyone who comes or goes usually must pass by where I sit for most of the day. Having worked there as long as I have now, I know who is coming and who is going, most times, without even looking up. I know the fast walkers from the slow ones, the heavy steppers from the light ones, those who saunter and those who normally walk with a determination in their step…everyone has their own rhythm, their own “walking personality,” so to speak.

The other day I sat there, head down, reading a prayer that I like to start my day with, when I heard footsteps, and I knew who it was. I thought to myself, “She’s early”…You see, I also know everyone’s approximate arrival time--we are not a normal nine to five office. I looked up to find my co-worker walking towards me, and I said, “I knew it was you, just by the sound of your steps.” She laughed, and she talked of a squeak in her shoe. I hadn’t noticed that…maybe that wasn’t what I was listening for?

Perhaps our relationship with God is similar? When we get to know Him, to know His character, we can know the rhythm of His walk and when our footsteps are not in alignment with His. We can know when the path we are on is, or is not, the path of His choosing, and we can stop and listen and adjust our “gait” until what we feel is a fluid motion--like a dance that glides perfectly along with the rhythm of God.

In thinking about all of this, what should a friend send me, but the following lyrics to a “Casting Crowns” song…

Your love is extravagant
Your friendship, it is intimate
I feel like moving to the rhythm of Your grace

I asked her why she sent it to me? She did not know, except to say that she woke up singing this song, and just felt the need to share it with someone… How can I not see God’s design in the events of each day with things like this? It caused me to chuckle, and to be blessed, and to begin to share with you once again what an awesome God we serve! He is our Best Friend, He is intimately involved in our lives, and His love is extravagant. When we move with Him, when we walk in His footsteps, when our lives reflect the life of His Son, Jesus Christ, life should be a dance with Him.

If it’s not, are we missing something?
Are we not hearing the “music” of Heaven in our hearts?
Are we marching to the beat of a different drummer…?
Which one?

Many of us are familiar with Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary…” but have you ever read it in The Message Bible? It’s an interesting translation. It reads, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Don’t you just love it? I do! God is asking us to walk with Him, just as Adam and Eve did. He knows we get distracted, hurried, stressed…and He’s saying, “Watch how I do it, and learn. There’s a rhythm to it, filled with grace for your life.” He’s asking us, “Do you wanna dance?”

Recently, Jim was called to DJ a party. A friend of ours had booked two parties on the same night, and since he obviously couldn’t be both places at once, he asked Jim for a little help. Jim was happy to play DJ for the night, something he loves doing. The party he was called to work at was a Prom for adults. It was a special night, held each year, where those who, in many ways, remain children their entire lives, enjoy an evening out. They get all dressed up and are ready to dance!

Most of us, who attend parties like this, are resistant to get out there as soon as the music starts and kick up our heels. Our inhibitions get the best of us. We are not as free to be as those who Jim was playing the music for on this night. This crowd may have lacked the mental quickness to be accountants or lawyers or doctors, but they don’t lack the skills to have a great time! For a DJ, it is a dream job.

The minute the music starts, the dancing begins. With a partner, or without one, they are there to have a good time, with no inhibitions. They are not caught up in the rhythm of the world, but rather have an unforced rhythm that has not been stripped away by what others might think! They danced from the first song till the last, and wanted more! They went home happy and tired and looking forward to the next year’s prom.

I wonder, because of their child-like minds, do they hear the rhythm of God better than some of us do? Do they hear His voice, unrestrained, because they have no inhibitions in being open to their Father’s love? Do they walk with God in a special way--a way that they can’t fully express, or maybe that we can’t fully understand? I don’t know, not having known many who are mentally handicapped, that intimately.

There’s a story in one of my favorite books, “Windows of the Soul,” by Ken Gire. He shares of an afternoon at a roller rink where a young boy named Joey was playing Hockey. Joey was the goalie, and he has cerebral palsy. Ken Gire writes:

He begs them to look beyond the disease and all it has robbed him of. He begs them to look beyond the slur of his words and the shuffle of his feet. He begs them to see Joey…With the language of emotion, a complex and sometimes indecipherable language, Joey is begging us to look beyond the jarring and disjointed Picasso that his life appears to be on the surface, pleading with us to see within him the beautiful and breathtaking Michelangelo, which is no less than the very image of God.

Aren’t we all?
Aren’t we all hoping those around us will look beyond the surface level of our lives for the image of the invisible God which lives within us?

Are we really all that different than those with a visible handicap, one that causes them to perhaps shuffle their feet at times, trip over something little in front of them or get lost along the way? Aren’t we all sort of stumbling through life wanting others to see us as God made us, in His image, and not with all the flaws and defects that seem to attach themselves to us along the way?--the very things that interrupt our walk with God or the rhythm we hear in our head that is of Him, but that gets muffled by the things in this life?

My dad has been suffering with Parkinson’s disease for over ten years now. This disease has taken a very vital and healthy man and aged him very quickly. Parkinson’s can rob the face of its expressions, the steps from any spring they once had, the mind from being able to deal with changes that come quickly. As I watch my dad now shuffle as he walks, arms hanging almost limply at his sides, I see very visibly the effects that this disease can have. It does not change who he is, that he was made in the image of God…it does change what he can do and what others might think of him. But as he slows down, perhaps he hears the whisperings of our Lord better than ever before? Maybe the glory of our Lord is there even stronger, deep inside, even if the glow on my dad’s face is diminishing…maybe he hears the music of heaven as it draws ever closer, and perhaps it brings a peace to his heart greater than he’s ever known before? Maybe what we see as sad, as in some mental handicaps and some physical handicaps, there are more blessings than we could ever understand or imagine, having never “danced” in their shoes?

The thing is, most times we would not choose to dance in anybody else’s “shoes.” I heard it said that if everyone’s life was contained in a backpack, and all the backpacks were tossed into a pile, which one would we choose to pick up and live through, besides our own? Some may say very quickly, “Well, I’d choose anyone else’s life, but my own. My own has been extremely difficult.” But, would we? Would we pick up our neighbor’s backpack of life, the one in the big house with the five-car garage that’s filled with expensive automobiles across the street? Would we, not knowing what goes on behind their closed doors? Maybe they glance out their windows into ours, wishing for the life we are living…but they can’t know all that it contains can they? Most don’t…

I have heard about some very blessed lives, and I’ve heard about some lives that seem to be the polar opposite of that, but the only life I really know intimately is my own. The only thoughts I really know intimately are my own, and although for the most part I have had a very blessed life, I have to believe that there are not many who would choose to “dance in my shoes” on this day.

“No one can know what anyone else is really thinking except that person alone, and no one can know God's thoughts except God's own Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 2:11 (NLT)

That’s probably a very good thing--we can only know each other to a certain depth, and beyond that, it’s God’s territory. He knows our every thought, our every motive, our every dream, our every struggle and emotion. He knows what’s in our past and what’s in our future…He knows every article of life in our “backpack.” And He loves us anyway! How great Thou art!!

And through it all, He says, “Won’t you dance with Me?”

In Ephesians 4:13 (The Message), it talks about the gifts each one of us is given and how when they are used as God designs, “we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.”

There’s a reason for what each of our backpacks contain. There’s a purpose in all of it, and if we will dance with God through the good times, and the bad, we will see the body of Christ, the Church as we are called, move “rhythmically and easily with each other.”

If all our backpacks contained the same struggles, who would be there to encourage us? If they all contained the same path, who would be there to lead the way? If they all contained the same body type, the same interests in life, the same passions and desires, who would be there to expand our world and show us a different way of being? If we all became Christians on the day we were born, what kind of testimony would we have, or need? If we were all little robots, designed in God’s image but not given free will, what would our love mean to Him? It would be fixed, set in stone, and as cold as just that. But this way, this way of choice and freedom and mistakes and struggles and desires and passions and failures and successes, we are fully alive and fully functioning and fully able to love Him with our whole hearts if we so choose. If we do not choose to love God, He will not force us, but He will continue to love us to Him for as long as we live--wanting us to be with Him forever in Paradise but willing to let us go if we refuse His offer of redemption.

There is a Prom waiting for all who believe. There is that special dance still ahead where we will be face-to-face with our Lord. That’s when Jesus will take us in His arms and we will never be out of step again. The music will be perfect, the lighting will be perfect, the clothes will be perfect, the food will be perfect and our Date will be perfect. All the times we think we missed out on here, the times when we didn’t get asked to the dance or were too afraid to join in once we got there, will be left behind. All the uneasiness we once felt, the betrayal that scarred our tender heart, the lack we felt, the future that might have seemed bleak, will be left behind. The shadows that were cast, the darkness that surrounded us, will be left behind…we will be in perfect step with the Love of our life!

Hallelujah!!

Until then, we have some dance lessons we must attend to. We have some instructions in God’s Word that can help us along. We can be listening to the music that rings in our ears and to the call on our heart that will help us get up from where we are and move into the light—into the rhythm of God and enjoy the fullest, most joyful life possible—the life that God desires for us to live by being in step with Him!

Yes, life is a dance. We can sit in the dark, on the side of the room, sipping some punch, wishing that someone would notice us—or we can get up, walk to the center of the floor and start moving to the music of Heaven! Others may turn and look at us, they may wonder what we are doing, they may wonder why we would dance without a partner, they may question our motives and whether we’re even in our right minds…but like those at the Prom where Jim DJ’d, let’s enjoy the dance! If we are free in Christ, He is our Partner and we can be free indeed! We can dance like David danced, we can dance from our hospital bed, we can dance in a cancer ward, we can dance when we are alone, we can dance when we are at work, we can dance every day in our hearts, when our hearts belong to the One who knows us best!

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might…
2 Samuel 5:15

It’s being in step with God’s will that will help us through this life—when we can hear the music of Heaven there will be a definite rhythm to this life. If we’re dragging, if we are joyless, if we’re uptight, if we have no direction and no purpose, we need to get back in step with our Lord, and let Him lead! He will lead us through each day and all the way Home to Heaven!

Let’s “learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

Learning to dance,

Diane