God's Sweet & Sonorous Symphony
Having been a choral music director for the better part of my adult career, when it was announced that New Covenant Bible Church's current sermon series would be called "Rhythms,” I could not help but harken back to my previous life. Please indulge me as I unpack a comparison between musical rhythms and spiritual rhythms – and being an eternal educator, I pray the application provided will be honoring to the Lord and to you.
Some define rhythm as “the pattern of sound, silence, and recurrence in music.” It refers to the repetition of notes and rests (silences) in time. Musical rhythm not only indicates when notes are played, but also indicates how long they are played, and with what degree of intensity. This creates different note values and different types of accents. Now let’s look at how this aligns with spiritual rhythms.
During these extraordinary times, many have shared that they were feeling a little out of step with what God was doing and saying in their lives. Are we all experiencing a wee bit of spiritual A-fibrillation of the heart? Are we marching too quickly? Too slowly?
Here is what I have observed:
- Sometimes spiritual rhythms and disciplines receive an undeserved bad reputation. They are sometimes perceived as just another “to-do” to achieve spiritual brownie points, rather than as a way to connect with a God who loves us, desires to lead us, refresh us, and guide us.
- Practicing the disciplines of spiritual rhythms is challenging! It feels like everything is against us: household noise; our phones; the internet; our daily “gotta do this, or else” lists.
- Yet, when we do make an effort to give these a try, we are surprised by how refreshing and calming they can be. Some would dare say that they are experiencing a calm, or maybe deep, Hebrew peace – that “Shalom.”
- Finally, when we have spiritual rhythms in place, those practices could be our only constant, particularly during this extraordinary season. I am constantly reminded that, while everything around me seems to be in constant flux, God is unchanging!! (Isaiah 40:8)
Personally, I have been right there with all these observations. I have struggled to pray, particularly when I was not sure that God was listening – especially in the middle of the night!
I’ve felt that I was simply going through the motions because it was the right thing to do, only to discover that the chaos of life demanded these practices to keep me grounded and to give me the capacity to love and serve others.
I’ve established habits that seemed life-giving for a time, but then found a new season that would upset the apple cart. I’ve had to pray about and begin to develop new rhythms that created the patterns and spaces for my joy, my sorrow, my questions, - for praise, gratitude, anger – and for forgiveness.
In music, rhythm functions as the kinetic engine and gives a composition its structure. Even when a piece is perceived as random, the rhythm is what allows the work to make sense. Spiritual rhythms give sense to our lives when we are with Him – when we connect to who we are and Whose we are; when we allow time to enlarge our hearts; when we have the capacity to love like Jesus. Oh, how I love to love others – to sing His songs - when God has blessed me with that capacity!
So, my blessed church family, take time. Celebrate His sounds, and also savor His silences. May you experience God’s sweet and sonorous symphonies in those spiritual rhythms.