When I first heard the term “Sacred Rhythms” I thought this sounds ridiculous and hokey and I basically just wrote it off.
You see, I grew up in a tradition that taught me that time spent with Jesus looked a lot like doing homework. You, or your bible study group, picked a book of the Bible to study and every day you read a small chapter or passage and answered questions from a workbook. If you were an overly diligent student you also highlighted the important verses and took copious amounts of notes in all the margins.
And there’s nothing wrong with this. Over time I began to find it tedious and just another task to check off my list. I wondered, is this the best way to spend time with Jesus and study the Bible?
And they I heard about Sacred Rhythms. Pastor Eric asked the staff and elders to spend a weekend on a retreat together a little over a year ago. To say that this weekend pushed me out of my comfort zone would be an understatement. But sometimes comfort zones need to be expanded and that certainly applied to me.
Ruth Haley Barton led the retreat and taught us what Sacred Rhythms actually are and how they can change how we spend time with Jesus. She taught us to be quiet and still. To quietly read a short passage of Scripture; maybe only one verse. She showed us what it looks like to meditate on just that verse and listen quietly to hear what God is trying to tell us.
I’ll be honest. It was a struggle for me. It was hard to turn my brain off and focus solely on the Scripture, to allow myself to hear God’s whisper. My mind kept drifting…I wonder what my kids are up to? Did my husband remember…? Did I leave clothes in the washer? What should we have for supper? And so on.
By the end of the retreat, what had started out as weird and uncomfortable had become relaxing and centering. I had learned to quiet my never-ending to do list and sit in silence and stillness with God.
It was so nice. And freeing. I no longer felt bound by arbitrary rules of what time with Jesus needed to look like. It simplified it for me and made time with Jesus much more accessible.
Since then I’ve found myself putting less pressure on myself to study the Bible a “certain” way. I’ve stopped looking at it as a homework assignment and I’ve allowed myself to relax and enjoy my quiet times with Jesus. To just sit quietly in stillness and listen to what Jesus is trying to tell me.
Ruth Haley Barton is coming to Eagle on June 10th to lead us in a Sacred Rhythms retreat. I hope you'll join us and I pray you'll find it as worthwhile as I did.