The world never stops. Its citizens scurry from home to work and back with barely time to breathe in a frenetic freeway rush of activity. Climbing the corporate ladder requires extra hours, so even sleep is sacrificed to the gods of success. Those removed from the work-a-day world whirl through meetings and projects of clubs and causes. Or they focus their time on leisure activity, the great oxymoron of modern society.
Activity is addictive. And like any addiction, there are consequences. The symptoms of life’s staccato speed are universal: headaches, depression, loneliness, irritation, shallow relationships, mountains of debt in the frenzied pursuit of bigger and better. What will it take to regain perspective, return to sensible living? Where does rapid-fire, war-torn living end?
A doctor from Australia, now living in Seattle, suggests a solution. Christine Sine writes of a different way in Sacred Rhythms: Finding a Peaceful Pace in a Hectic World (Baker Books, 2003). And she starts with her own experience: “I was so busy being zealous for God that I did not take the time to renew and replenish my spiritual life,” Sine writes. “I ended up in the hospital.
“I spent time reflecting on what had brought me to that place and how I could have avoided it,” she continues. “The underlying cause was a viral illness, but I am convinced that my body rebelled against my fast-paced, high-stress lifestyle. I had abused my body. I had lived in a state of constant spiritual arrhythmia . . . . Now I was paying the price.”
In just over 230 pages, Sine offers a challenge to Christians in the western world. She asks them to stop for a moment, diagnose the arrhythmia of their own lives, and seek out the proper rhythm established by the Creator of life itself.
Sine recognizes that separation from the world — in most cases — is neither desirable nor possible. She insists that we need balance: “a rhythm that both paces us through the everyday and sustains us through the mountain passes.” And she spends considerable space selecting and explaining disciplines intended to restore a healthy focus to our lives and balance existence in the world with a spiritual perspective.
Celebration: “Christ is meant to break the power of the eternal winter of our souls and bring festivity and celebration to our lives.”
Prayer: “Intimacy does not develop from a one-sided monologue.”
Relationship: “We know that the darkness is dispelled and the dawn has come when we can see in the countenance of another the face of Christ.”
Sabbath Rest: “For the Jews, Sabbath is fundamental to life and to both their spiritual and emotional health. It is the culmination of the week, the day that gives purpose to all other days.”
Christ’s message, according to Sine, is not one of guilt or condemnation. Instead, God longs for His creation to rediscover the gift of life He gave in the garden. It’s not a duty. It’s not a space in time waiting to be filled by human activity. This gift of life is opportunity and only the beginning of what God has in store for those who seek Him.
We know that the darkness is dispelled and the dawn has come when we can see in the countenance of another the face of Christ.