Author: Mike Sandefur
We often talk about how our gospel identities as family, missionary and servant are lived out in the everyday rhythms of life. But for many of us life is full of irregular rhythms. We may have complicated work schedules, kids activities, or any number of other things that rise up as barriers to what we perceive as regularity. My wife and I both work full-time but on very different schedules. I work days while she works nights. The only common day off we have is every other Saturday. Between work and our weekly MC dinner we only have three free evening each week and those get taken up by kids events, DNA, date night, etc. At times this can lead to a sense of frustration because it feels like we can’t do what we want to do or what we’re expected to do.
Because of the work of Christ we have nothing to prove.
So how do we make sense of the irregularity? First let me address the frustration. Because of the work of Christ we have nothing to prove. There is nothing we can do that will make him love us more. There is nothing we can do or fail to do that is going to screw up his plan. And for many, understanding that very sovereignty is what is missing. Do you believe that God is in control even over the irregular craziness of your life? Failure to believe that puts all the pressure to make sense of life and get things done squarely on our shoulders. That is a hard place to be because we simply cannot do it. Peace and understanding only come from trusting him to make it clear. Our starting point must be prayer and confession.—asking God to show us where he’s at work in our lives and being honest about the ways we’ve tried to do it ourselves.
With that heart and attitude I can then begin to look at opportunities and rhythms in my own life. Tim Chester put together a basic set of questions that I’ve found very helpful. He simply asks, “What are the things you do everyday, every week, and every month?” Once that list is down on paper there are three additional questions.
- For any of these things how can I involve someone from my Missional Community?
- How could I involve an unbelieving friend or neighbor?
- How can I involve a gospel conversation?
What is valuable about all these questions is that it helps focus on the things I’m already doing instead of trying to come up with additional things to add into what is already a tough schedule.
Sometimes the challenge to spend time with others regularly has to do with their irregular schedules. Let’s face it we’re not the only ones with challenging life schedules. Again, pray for insight. Keep your eyes open and listen with open ears. We’re not talking about being a gospel stalker but just using basic observations as the Holy Spirit gives us understanding. Once you have a general idea of their rhythms of life, be willing to sacrifice some comfort to match even a small part of their schedule. It can feel really awkward at first but the dividends are well worth it.
Finally, we need to be aware of the most irregular rhythm of all. The Northwest rhythm of weather is so unpredictable and yet it impacts a lot of our lives. Going to the old Boy Scout motto “be prepared” is important here. Why? Because when the weather is good, regardless of the time of day, people get outside. And we need to be prepared to use every last minute of that time to bless others, to get to know them better, to eat together. How that looks is dependent on your neighbors and friends. In my neighborhood that means everyone is out talking at this retaining wall next door till 2am after grilling some food.
Through it all, remember God loves you—he gave everything for you. If we’re not praying for wisdom and guidance in this and relying on our own efforts, frustration is guaranteed. That does not mean that trusting this to God and letting the Spirit guide us and empower us will make things easy. Satan uses our busyness to derail our obedience. One of the most important things you can pray about is for God to reveal things you need to drop from your schedule. To do that takes trust and a willingness to let go of things we may see as important. But in the end it’s worth it—the amazing thing about living in Jesus’ ways is that not only is it for his glory, it is always also for our good.