We don't pay a lot of attention to life's rhythms. We work from home, eat food shipped from around the world, use birth control. And all this makes life a little more comfortable.
Until you hit a day like today. We've had almost two feet of snow in Lexington. Everything but the wine shop in Buena Vista is closed. Life is slower. Boring.
Proverbs 19 talks about gaining and cherishing wisdom, seeking out instruction. I've been thinking about that today, as I've been experiencing the forced slow-down caused by the snowy rhythms of God's Nature.
My mentor - Bill - jokes that there are three different ways to learn...
- you can go to school
- you can learn from your mistakes
- you can learn from my mistakes
I think Solomon wanted me to listen to Bill (and folks like him). And Bill says that God gives us rhythms. And I believe him.
It was Bill who introduced me to the question "How are things with you and God right now?" The implication behind this is that God and I have a relationship, one with ups and downs, moment of intimacy and distance. The ancients carried this idea in their themes of consolation and desolation. (Note that this is the subjective plane of which we are speaking. Objectively, God is always present and the relationship is never truly at risk).
So, then, "training wisely" would require an awareness of our God-given rhythms.
These rhythms are caused (in the proximate, not the ultimate) by things as natural as how we sleep, what we eat, the frightful weather outside, and seasons and by things as unnatural as sin. Some days, we are more able to pray. Some days, God's words leap from the text and shake us with power. Some days, even the small act of smiling at a stranger requires Holy Spirit power. That's how rhythm impacts discipline, our "training wisely."
I wanted to leave you with a quote from my old, dead, never-met friend CS Lewis. In his book Letters to Malcolm, Lewis writes to his friend Malcolm Muggeridge about rhythm. Unfortunately, I can't find the book (story of my life). It might be lost in my truck or it might be in the good hands of Luke-the-wonderful-and-wild-west-virginian-bear-scarer-Ellis. I'll leave you with this attempted re-creation:
I go wrong when I make the mistake Pascal called "The Error of Stoicism": thinking we can do always what we can do sometimes.