Saturday, August 20, 2011

Keeping In Step

When I was a kid, my grandma and I would sometimes go walking together. She would wrap her arm around my little shoulders, and I would barely reach up to grab around her waist. Then we'd stop and shuffle and awkwardly skip a minute to get in step with each other. Connected by arms and the rhythm of our feet, we'd then recite this rhyme along to the beat of our pace -

You'll never get home with your Right!

I Left my wife with 46 kids, the OLD gray mare, and the PEAnut stand!

This would repeat until I would inevitably be giggling with joy over the silly rhyme and trying to stay in step.

There is something about walking in synchrony with someone or with a song that makes my heart more joyful and helps me continue on my path. I was thinking about that the other day as I walked on the treadmill to one of my favorite songs, "The Cave," by Mumford and Sons. Because that song spurred me on in my exercise, I decided to search my collection for more songs at that tempo using a free program called BeaTunes. It helped me to make a playlist on my iPod for songs specifically with a tempo in that range. It's made my walking so much easier and more satisfying.

This made me wonder, is it just me? Is there any science behind this? According to researchers, not only does music combined with exercise clear our minds and make us better able to think, but it also results in the accomplishment of more work without proportional changes in heart rate.

Suffice it to say that when your foot strikes the pavement at the exact moment of that drum in your ear, you are experiencing a kind of synergy - an ease that God built into our bodies to work better and to do more. Like WD40 applied to a squeaky door hinge, we can glide when we are in step with music.

Interestingly, God uses this same kind of language in the Bible when describing how we are to live the Christian life. When we place our faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us and be our guide. He 'sets our pace' so to speak in how we should live. Paul wrote to the Galatians that we are to "keep in step with the Spirit."

God wants to use our lives to do good works that he planned in advance specifically for us to do. However, we will struggle with this if we are trying to do good works on our own - making the mistake of attempting to "earn" God's salvation, which is a free gift.

Like walking without a rhythm, left to our own devices we will tire prematurely and the impact of our lives will be extinguished once this earth passes away. It's only by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit that we are empowered to do eternal work for God's kingdom. Even when we are weak and sick - especially when weak and sick - we are called to serve God with joy. The secret is trusting in him to set the rhythm for our lives and not fighting against it.

There was a song that was very popular years ago by Sonic Flood called Resonate. The lyrics caught my attention one day as I listened:

"Let all living things
Praise You with one voice
We will resonate, resonate Your glory"

I was stopped in my tracks when I heard this because we were studying resonance in class. One definition of resonance? "The intensification and enriching of a musical tone by supplementary vibration." We intensify God's rhythm in this world when we match it with the way we live our lives. A little bit off here or there, and we miss the profound amplification of resonance.

Think of it this way - have you ever pushed someone on a swing? You intensify their motion by timing your pushes specifically to their natural rhythm. If you want to slow them down, you just oppose that rhythm. The same is true in our walk with God. By keeping in step with his commands to love him and love others, we will intensify God's movement here on earth and resonate his glory for eternity.

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

2 John 1:6