There are a lot of good, logical reasons why I shouldn’t be a minister. I have a very imperfect faith and doubt more often than I probably should. I like problems that have easy, find-able solutions (not many of those in the hospital rooms I visit). I really, really like to eat, and being a minister provides me more opportunities than are healthy for me. And I’m not a morning person.
Six days out of the week I can skate by on that last one, but there’s that one day that I pretty much have to hit the ground running. When I was interviewing for my first church out of seminary, I made a bargain with God that I would be willing to accept all kinds of circumstances, on the condition that there not be an early service. So, the first church I served? 8 a.m. service, of course. Makes the 8:30 a.m. service at my current church feel like sleeping in. Still can’t figure out why God doesn’t play by my rules.
I say all this because I was up at the brutal hour of 6 a.m. today – a Saturday! – to take my oldest daughter to church for the youth ski trip. The night before, my wife looked at me and asked the question that had been hovering over the both of us all day like a dangling boulder: “So, who’s taking Syd tomorrow?” Being the chivalric, noble husband, I said Syd could probably walk (it’s only about eight miles), but relented and agreed to take her. I felt like such a good husband for taking this bullet. This morning, the only thing I felt was tired.
Syd and I got up, got her stuff together, and arrived at church 10 minutes late (that’s “on time” for her). On the way over, I noticed something strange. Other people were up, too! I saw cars and bundled-up joggers and store lights flickering to life. There were people walking their dogs and a crowd getting ready for a race at the local football stadium, and I swear I saw this bright orange thing in the eastern sky. Hot air balloon? That’s the theory I’m going with.
Once my eyes adjusted to being open so early, I discovered a whole new world that I was not used to seeing. The rhythm of my life is fairly monotonous, meaning I tend to rise, move around, and go to sleep at the same times and in the same patterns. So it was refreshing to be out of rhythm, to see what God’s world was up to at an hour when I was usually sawing logs. I was reminded that the God I worship never slumbers nor sleeps, and neither does this incredible planet God created. Not that I want to do this every Saturday (getting up early one day a week is enough for me), but there was a lot of good things to be found. And in the interest of full disclosure, one really, really bad thing – Jamba Juice doesn’t open until 8 a.m.! I had to say “Aloha” to my Aloha Pineapple smoothie.
I wonder what other rhythms in my life need to be broken. The line between rhythm and rut seems pretty thin, and a comfortable pattern can easily slide into behavioral blinders. If we’re feeling a sense of restlessness or ennui, maybe we need to make a change. I’m not talking about taking a stick of dynamite to our lives, but small changes that can break through the guardrails we’ve created. We could get up early (or stay up late), change our route to work, read a different kind of book, or just do something uncharacteristic (but not stupid or illegal). Seeing the world through different eyes – even if only for a morning – can wake us up to the Spirit of God all around us and give us new insights into who we are and who God is calling us to be. What routine in your life might need to be changed in order for you to experience God in a new way?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a nap.