In our neck of the woods, public schools start today. Some of you in other parts of the country are probably thinking, “I always thought Californians were crazy. This confirms it!” Yeah, I know. Sometimes things get weird here on the “left side” of the country. It all has to do with standardized testing in April, or something like that.
The first day of school is always a big thing in the Lee home. My wife, Letty, is a Kindergarten teacher. She has been running around like crazy the past two weeks getting things ready for her classroom. I’m a part-time seminary professor; so I’m getting geared up with faculty meetings this month. This day has even greater significance because this is also the beginning of school for my youngest grandson, Aiden. So big day for all of us!
In many ways, this marks the beginning of a new season. During the summer, we could sleep in, have extended Personal Worship Times, go on vacation, and do some tasks around the house. Now that school has started we begin a new routine: getting up early, being more on the clock, coordinating activities and nights out, and trying not to get “burned out” on the frenetic pace that gets thrust upon us. As a pastor and professor, the Fall signals a significant increase in activity and energy give out. And even though the Fall season might be more “normal” for you (meaning, that you actually start it in September), it does mark a change in routine.
Here is one thought that I want to give us as we contemplate new routines:
Maintain your Spiritual Rhythms.
Spiritual rhythms are places where we receive life from God to live empowered lives in the midst of our routine. New routines only change how we spend our time. Spiritual rhythms give us the power to live godly in the midst of the new demands of the season (increased workload, creativity, engagement).
I highly recommend Ruth Haley Barton’s book, “Sacred Rhythms,” as a great resource for the kinds of spiritual rhythms that are life-giving, that get us connected to the Living God (in fact, this will be the text book for my class as I teach seminary this semester). I just want to touch on a couple of rhythms that might be helpful as we enter into a new routine.
1. Sabbath – this is usually what gets forgotten in new routines. The urgent needs of today call for us to make sacrifices on things that we think are “optional.” But I’m learning that Sabbath is not optional; it’s a necessity. We need that day to rest, recalibrate, and re-align ourselves with God. Sometimes Sunday is the best day to take for Sabbath, but for some other days might be better (especially those in ministry). My day is Tuesday, and I do what I can to protect my Tuesdays from the demands of work.
2. Personal Worship Time – this is our daily rhythm to spend time in God’s presence, in solitude, prayer, Scripture, and silence. Again, this time gets challenged during the transition into new routines. I find that consistency of this time is the most important quality – even more so than the amount of time we spend with God. I think 15 minutes a day every day has more affect than an hour every three days or a half hour every other day.
3. Reconnection with God during the day – this is something that can really make a difference in our day. Whether it is praying the Daily Office (I have this great booklet on my phone called “Hour by Hour” – you can get it and download it from Amazon.com – which has a short office that can be prayed four times a day), or setting the chime on your watch/phone to go off every hour to pray a short prayer, or putting a coin in your shoe (and acknowledge God every time you feel the coin). Reconnecting with God put us more in line with what God is doing in and around our lives.
What are some other spiritual rhythms that empower you as you change seasons?
What is one spiritual rhythm you would like to employ this Fall season?