We feel like we will miss out, or that we are not enough. This is why we cram days into each other. We blur them and force them to get along. But we are restless. Agitated. Irritated. Discontent. When is anything ever enough?
We feel restless because we were created with a morning and evening pace built into us.
We were made to go and to pause, to go and to pause, to go, and then for a while, to rest.
Recover a Weekly Rhythm: Passionate Work, Strategic and Wholesome Rest
When God made the days and nights, this pace for a day, this rhythm for a week peeked out at us, like a shy but faithful friend (Genesis 1). We want a stronger looking friend. So we overlook the wisdom of this gentle-looking one. But make no mistake, wisdom and true strength whispers here.
Day 1: Work. . . Rest
Day 2: Work . . . Rest
Day 3: Work . . . Rest
Day 4: Work. . . Rest
Day 5: Work. . . Rest
Day 6: Work. . . Rest
Day 7: Rest . . .Rest
No wonder Jesus teaches us that each day has enough in it (Matthew 6:34) and to pray for daily need (Matthew 6:11).
Tomorrow’s worry is a selfie–it constantly wants us to look at it. Tomorrow’s worry is a photo bomber–obnoxiously asserting itself into today’s picture. Tomorrow’s worry can get over itself and wait like the rest of us.
Remember the Four Daily Pauses
1. When you wake up, say thank you to God. The night watches have ended. Join the Psalmist in a prayer like this one:
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul (Psalm 143:8).
2. Around 11:45am, when you are on your way to an appointment or getting ready for lunch, pause. The morning is ending. The afternoon is about to begin. The afternoon is the time of perseverance, wanting the day to end, happy hour. Temptations lurk here.
3. On your way home, or as you prepare for folks to come home, let the afternoon come to a close. The evening comes. Hard work gives way to friendship, food, hospitality and play.
4. Before bed, let the evening come to a close. For some of us, sleep will take us to the morning. For others of us, the night watches will call us to prayer. Either way, let the evening come to its end. Join the Psalmist in a prayer like this:
By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42:8)
Reflect and Pray During the Pause
1. Are there any cares (anxieties/worries) lingering from the morning? Cast them upon the Lord. Don’t take them unmeditated into the afternoon. It will compound the worries you will find there and agitate your soul.
2. Are there any carnalities (temptations) still stalking you from your afternoon? Go fresh with them to the Lord. Seek his grace, strength, forgiveness or help. Put them in their place before coming home into the evening.
3. As you lay your head on your pillow to close the evening, are there any consolations (kindnesses/joys) from the day for which you can give thanks to God and derive the pleasure of them for your heart? Don’t head into the night watches ungrateful or without the small but true joys God gave to you. Gather them up like flowers in a vase of fresh water.
4. If you find yourself up in the night watches–know that you have a friend there with you. The Lord who is up too. And likely someone else in the church like me or another member. We too are likely irritated or sad. feisty in prayer or worried. Soon enough the night watch will end. The morning will come. A sign of promise.
Jesus was up long before you were. He wakens you gently. He leads you into what comes.
(For more on this theme, listen to the sermon by the same name, Taking Each Day as it Comes, May 8, 2016 at Riverside Church).