My wife and I spent a week away at the beach recently (thus, why I have been silent). Every morning I went to the shoreline at dawn to watch the sunrise. I love sunrises and sunsets everywhere, but particularly on the ocean’s edge. It occurred to me on one of those mornings that what I was witnessing has been witnessed daily for millennia. Around the world, down through the ages, humans have seen the sun rise in the east and set in the west every day. This is one of the permanent rhythms of life and a universal experience even if we don’t always pay attention.
Another consistent rhythm at the ocean is the twice daily ebb and flow of the tides. Permanent residents know when both high and low tide will arrive because they are experienced consistently year-round.
The seasons are another rhythm we all encounter. While we may experience them differently depending on where we live (we awoke to frost this morning!), we each can predict to some degree what the weather will be like during a given month.
Another rhythm in life is birth and death. Each may not be as predictable as the sun’s rising and setting, but to be sure, they are an inevitable part of the human experience—one most often a joyful experience and the other a sad ending. Over the past week, I have rejoiced in the birth of an alumni couple’s baby, and am preparing this afternoon to attend the funeral of an alumna who unexpectedly died a week ago.
There are, of course, many other rhythms in our lives that are more distinctive to each of us—sleeping habits, and daily routines such as work, meals, and times of reading the Scriptures and praying. These often change depending on our life circumstances. New parents immediately see a change in their sleeping habits! Yet, somehow, even with these changes, along comes a rhythm in them as well.
Rhythms are a part of the human experience because our God is a rhythmic being. He is the one who set the earth on its axis to rotate in a 24-hour period and to orbit the sun over a period of 365 days, and put the moon in place to orbit the earth, thus impacting the ocean tides with its gravitational pull. And he created us to have a rhythmic relationship with our surroundings. Our lungs rhythmically expand and contract to take in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Our hearts beat in rhythm, pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout our bodies to maintain life. Our bodies bid us nightly to lie prostrate on our beds in order to sleep and restore energy expended during the day. Like our God, we are rhythmic beings and do best when everything for us is in rhythm.
However, we live in a fallen world and that means there are many disruptions to our natural bent toward rhythm. Natural disasters, a depressed economy, death, divorce, and serious illness can disrupt the rhythms of our lives, both literally and figuratively. We have all experienced this to some degree during the past year in the midst of the pandemic.
Yet, even with the disruptions, the rhythm of our relationship with the Lord can continue to remain constant because he is always the same. No matter what is happening with us personally, like the sun rising in the east, we can always count on him because he never changes. As I look over the course of my life since turning it over to the Lord as a 19-year-old, there have been numerous disruptions to the rhythm of my life—deaths of family members, divorce, re-location, specific sin, and even literally having my heart stopped for an hour while a new aortic valve was put into place. Yet, I have always managed to stay in a rhythm with God. Admittedly, the rhythm has been less solid at times, but it has never ceased.
For me, the key has been understanding that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning. Just as there is rhythm to the sun rising, so, too, is there a rhythm to the Lord’s compassion upon us. As the dawn breaks every morning, I am reminded that the Lord’s mercies are awaiting me as well. Enough to get me through the day, and the next, and the next. It is a rhythm I pray will remain the entirety of my life.
© Jim Musser 2021 All Scripture references are from the New International Version, 2011.