Up early. Rushing from one meeting to another. Distracted by social media. Busy and tired. Exhausted and not getting enough sleep. Repeat.
Does that sound familiar? We don’t need to be convinced to intuitively know that we live in a culture of hurry. A culture in which our immediate response when asked how we are, is to proudly respond with the answer: busy.
But is this what it means to be a disciple of Jesus? Is this what God wants for me? In the past few years, I’ve come to the stark realization that things needed to change. I needed to slow down. I needed to breathe. I needed to re-calibrate.
And so one of the things that I started a few years ago was to develop something called a rule of life. A rule of life (sometimes called a regula) is something that monks in monastic communities have done for well over 1,500 years now. It’s a pattern of Christian practices. Practices such as prayer, silence, solitude, fasting, scripture, and Sabbath.
The purpose of a rule of life is to provide a practical pattern to shape our lives. It’s about developing habits that make us better followers of Jesus. In fact, it’s about literally following the habits of Jesus. Jesus often retreated to a quiet place, he prayed, he fasted, he memorized Scripture. But I admit, it’s hard. Reading through scripture and spending time in prayer everyday isn’t that easy. At least not for me.
But then the pandemic hit.
Although the pandemic has caused obvious disruption to my life, it has also brought with it a newfound opportunity. An opportunity to discover new rhythms in order to grow more deeply in the spiritual habits of solitude, silence, and Sabbath. I have found myself with more time to be still. To fast. To read Scripture daily. To pray. To take long walks. And to actually Sabbath on Sunday! As a pastor, when was the last time I took Sabbath on Sundays?
Although it’s only been a few months since discovering these new rhythms, I’ve already begun to notice how these habits have begun to shape my thoughts and my actions. I’ve begun to notice how these practices have helped me to turn off the noise around me and enabled me to hear God better. As Andy Crouch puts it so well: “The most powerful choices we will make in our lives are not about specific decisions but about patterns of life: the nudges and disciplines that will shape all our other choices.” What are the patterns, what are the disciplines or habits, that shape your life?
If you want to learn more and want to join me in this journey of developing a rule of life, I would recommend that you put these two books on your reading list. John Mark Comer’s The Relentless Elimination of Hurry and James Cleer’s Atomic Habits. Comer’s book gives the reason behind the need of a rule of life, and Cleer’s book provides practical ways to do it!
Is now the time (yes… maybe even during a worldwide pandemic!) to find a new rhythm to your life?
Albert Chu is a local mission leader serving with Resonate Global Mission in Richmond, British Columbia, and pastor of The Tapestry.