‘Well, I’ve got something to look forward to now’
I have been a part of countless conversations where each person details the long litany of events, weddings, birthday celebrations and holidays that they are looking forward to in the whirlwind of their life. I too have been an avid contributor to these conversations, as I get swept away with the anticipation of the next big thing scribbled into my diary. Of course, looking forward to things is not wrong or bad, it’s distinctly normal and we all do it; if we didn’t, there would seldom be highlights or notable memories in our stories. The problem is, though, that I think we have begun to need these engagements to help us through the seemingly grey weeks of everyday life. It can appear that without them, we plateau and plod along, searching for something to be excited about.
When we observe the life of Christ, it’s clear that he had some good, momentous occasions and events happening amidst everything else… a special wedding, countless dinners with his closest friends, and even boat trips out on the lake. I wonder how Jesus viewed these times in the grand scheme of his life and mission on Earth? It’s clear from the gospels that Jesus embodied three clear rhythms which echoed in each thing he did: Firstly, his UP relationship with his father, God, secondly, his IN relationship with his disciples and followers, and thirdly, his OUT relationship with the world around him.
Jesus doesn’t seem to differentiate or compartmentalise between what we may view as events, and what was just the day-to-day of his life; they are all valued, important, and intentional. The UP, IN and OUT rhythms of Jesus’ life weren’t stand alone appointments, but patterns that were weaved through the fabric of his words, his works, and his way. Simply put, Jesus didn’t wait for a glorious time or a poignant second to talk to God, lovingly correct a follower, or alleviate a prostitute of her shame, these things were all parts of his daily endeavour.
How, then should this challenge how we live as followers of Christ?
The cultural landscape of the society we’re a part of is consumed by the next thing, and having something to look forward to. That’s how it is. Whether it’s the weekend, payday, or a new series on Netflix. The challenge for us as followers of Christ is not to fall victim to the pattern of moving from one thing to the next (As Romans 12:2 urges, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world’) but to see each day as an adventure, an opportunity to grow more in love with God, and bear the fruit of his Spirit to all people. When we are loving God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind, we gracefully are able to live in rhythms of IN and OUT too; we stop making God, church, and serving others another schedule in our calendar, and it blossoms into the essence of who we are. Unless we are released from the burden of trying to squeeze everything and everyone into our allocated time slots, we won’t be able to see the beauty that comes from allowing Jesus’ way to flow through us stronger than our cultures’ way. So, what does this look like in messy, real time? Here are some questions to help you reflect on this for yourself:
Do you find yourself constantly looking forward to ‘the next thing’, instead of embracing normal, everyday life? If so, why do you think that is?
Have you become so fixed into your daily routines that you find it hard to allow for change and flexibility?
Can you recognise a rhythm of UP, IN and OUT through your life now, without it being event or program based?
How can you creatively engage more with God, his church, and the world through existing rhythms in your life? (i.e. Eating dinner each night, watching sports in the pub or at home, going to the gym, being at work, taking children to school).
Author: Rachel Calland