Rhythm

I was in a Christian band briefly.  On rare occasions I listen to the eight-inch reel-to-reel recordings of our practice sessions — usually alone because the grandkids quickly scatter after the novel fascination with the reel-to-reel recorder fades away.  Music no longer resides on a roll of thin tape.  It is even more like a ghost.  It comes on a chip imprinted on a board inside a small plastic box often transferred through the air instead of a wire.  

Of course, there is a rhythm in life and every aspect of it — work, church, friendships, spirituality.  Dad often said that accidents usually come in threes.  “Watch out!” he’d imply just after number two had inconvenienced him.  “Brace yourself!”  

The seasons reflect this rhythm and we codify our ups and downs as Spring or Winter.  I am living in the Fall-time season of my life.  But these cycles we go through, even with their indefinable borders and unpredictable durations, seem to have the ring of truth when we reflect upon the past.  

I taught myself a sequence of play in those days when we performed our music for youth groups and at Christian school assemblies.  It was awkward to do.  My arms did not want to move in the needed way.  They would get caught up with each other or the sticks would hit each other instead of the drum heads.  It involved playing sixteenth notes with one stroke per drum in sequence from snare drum to tom-tom to second tom-tom to floor tom-tom and back again to the snare — over and over through several musical measures.  I choreographed each movement of my hands and arms to keep them moving over and under each other.  Rhythm is natural, but some of the movements that create it require training and repetition through lots of practice.  In other words — work!  

The rhythms of life usually have more to do with discipline and work than coincidence.  If we brace for the next season, we may be unconsciously courting the next disaster and in our awkwardness setting ourselves up to trip over the next obstacle.  Better to keep practicing what we have come to have confidence in over the long term.  Accidents happen and skinned knees are going to occur; but that does not stop us from running and playing and working.  The rhythm is not about what happens to us as much as it is about the good habits we beat out in disciplined strokes like the kind that get a locomotive started moving and them constantly pulling and pushing forward down the track and up the mountain, over the valleys and into the horizon.  

For the Christian, these strokes are the same drum beats we have performed for so so long.  And they have proven themselves time and time again.  Read the Bible regularly.  Pray to God in conversations that cover praise, gratitude, and petition.  Talk among Christians in fellowship.  Let friendships flourish from testimony about the work of God in your life.  Show you care by taking action.  Invite people to Jesus and the church.  Serve in ways that help people want to come to church.  Encourage one another.  

“Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you” (2 Peter 1:10–12 NASB).

Stephen Williams