By Stephen W. Smith
It is impossible to live an abundant life if we are always seeking to balance our lives. Because we are so, so, so busy, we find ourselves in the perpetual “hunt” for how to make life work better. We build paradigms and construct illusions that ‘if we can find the secret of how to balance our life—then and only then, will be able to be happy.’
Learning to live in a new paradigm—a way of life that is ancient and proven is a part of the new platform I have been describing in these articles in the Potter’s Inn Journal in recent months (Building a Platform To Stand on and Live the Abundant Life). Learning to live in rhythm is the second plank we need to construct in this new platform of living. But, as long as we are seeking to balance our lives, we will NEVER deconstruct what is NOT working in our lives to be able to construct what WILL work to help us live with robust sanity and foster an inner sense of abundance. We cannot keep adding on more and more ways or methods of trying to make life work. The best way to move forward is to deconstruct some things that simply are not working. Since balance does not work—it must be deconstructed. We need to disassemble the cultural lessons we have absorbed. We need to quit spinning plates to make life work because we already know we can’t spin and spin for long. A plate seems to always be flying off and crashing somewhere, doesn’t it?
Living a life marked by rhythm fosters the abundant life. And it is the key missing plank in most of the people’s lives that we work with at Potter’s Inn. Until we admit that “balance is bunk” we will simply keep on trying to make something work that, quite frankly will not work.
Rhythm is imprinted in the world. Days, nights, the sun and moon, the changing seasons of our calendar year, the human body’s circadian rhythm all point to the same central and core truth: God created the world to work in rhythm, not balance.
As I write this there is a festival happening at our hummingbird feeder. Six or seven hummingbirds all flew up to Colorado to spend their summer and rhythmical migration to feast on the wonderful nectar of the Colorado wildflowers and our sugar filled feeders. They know rhythm. They live in rhythm. Within six weeks, all of our hummingbirds will—in rhythm—go back down to Mexico where they will live there until—in rhythm they return. It will frost here in six weeks. They already know it. They live in rhythm and no hummingbird will be found in our state by the sixth week. Its rhythm imprinted in their brains that makes them move, flow and do their own life in rhythm.
Bears live in rhythm. Elk live in rhythm. Every species of life has an imprinted rhythm imprinted in –just like a woman’s body does in her cycle of her monthly—bodily—rhythm. To live well and to live with wisdom imparted by God and lived out in the ancient days, we must again embrace that rhythm of how God designed the world to work.
The old Jews knew this quite well. They marked seasons and times—in rhythm by regular festivals. There were several festivals that marked the seasons. They all stopped and marked the changing of time by their festivals. We see the boy, Jesus –living in rhythm—by going to Jerusalem EVERY SINGLE YEAR—at the same time to a festival where there would be family, fun, worship, fireside laughter and times of refreshment from the harvest. We see Jesus living out his life by regular times of being on—then being off. He engaged and then he dis-engaged. He was not always on. He was not always available. This, my friends is the secret we need to embrace: the abundant life is a life marked by times of dis-engagement and then engagement. It’s rhythm. It’s not balance.
But we have become too sophisticated and modern through two primary influences to live in rhythm. The light bulb and now, the iPhone. The light bulb changed natural time which people use to live by. When the sun came up—they got up. When the sun went down—they went down. They did not work all day and then work all night. The iPhone has changed us to be constantly “on” and continually “available” and by this—we have experienced a collapse of time and space where we are driven to always be “on” and always be available. We are shaped by culture—not by rhythm.
Learning to live a life of rhythm allows one to truly stop; really rest deeply and disengage at regular intervals. Sabbath is the hinge pin to all spiritual rhythms. One day of stopping and ceasing and then we are ready for six days of being “on”, available and working. It is our one day to dis-engage. We cease. And as we cease, we receive a deep, internal blessing—because we have rested. When we push, strive and have no ceasing, we come unglued and live our lives on empty. We give our emptiness to each other—our spouses, our children, our friends. We truly have nothing to offer because we are so depleted.
When we live in this sustainable rhythm we move from surviving to thriving. We foster a life marked by resilience not survival and we experience a deep, soulful satisfaction within. Not only that, but a mood of rest is cultivated in our homes and workspace ---because after we rest, we really are ready to re-engage.
Rhythm is the second plank in building and constructing a new way of living. Until we learn and then practice rhythm we will remain stuck; living our lives on empty and toiling through our lives rather than enjoying the one life we have been given by God to live.
To help you explore rhythm more, I would suggest you get and read three of my books:
The Jesus Life (Order here) is where I expound on a life of rhythm in three chapters.
Soul Custody (Order here ) is where I explore living in a Sabbath rhythm.
Inside Job (Order here) is where I give a complete overview of the necessity of embracing rhythm as a new paradigm and the inner work this shift takes.