Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Playground Lesson 7: Jump Rope - Keeping In Sync With God's Heart

Dressed in yella
Went upstairs to
Kiss a fella.
Made a mistake.
Kissed a snake!
How many doctors
Did it take?
1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... etc.
Do you remember that jump rope rhyme from your elementary school days?  That one and many more were standard fare on the school playground for me. Not that I was all that good at jump rope, mind you. Even so, I still liked to try. 
Two kids twirled the rope, while others lined up for a turn to "Play School". Each child started out at "Kindergarten" with the easiest rhyme. If she couldn't complete the task, she had to repeat that grade on her next turn. 
As each child successfully completed "Kindergarten", she graduated to "first grade" and so on all the way through "high school" with each rhyme getting more and more difficult. Only the very best made it all the way through.

Several things were especially challenging for me.
  • Jumping In - For some reason, it was difficult for me to feel the rhythm of the twirling rope and jump in at just the right time. More often than not, the rope hit me in the face or got hung up on my feet as I tried to enter.
  • Maintaining the Rhythm - This was vital if I hoped to complete the level. Simply jumping once I was in was not too bad, but when I had to turn around, touch the ground, hop on one foot, or some other motion as I jumped ... well, that was a different story. It is not easy to maintain rhythm when there is a lot going on.
  • Jumping Out - As was true with jumping in, the exit could also prove tricky. Knowing exactly when to run out of the twirling rope also required a good sense of rhythm. I had to be aware of where the rope was ... and where it wasn't if I hoped to finish my "grade" successfully. If the rope hit me on the way out, I had to repeat the grade.
In case you didn't notice, the three things that were challenging for me encompass EVERYTHING about jump rope. Oh well, I never was very coordinated. I admit it.
Did you notice something else? There is a common word in each of these three points.


Jump rope is all about rhythm. It is about keeping in step. It is about keeping "in sync".

Life with Jesus is all about rhythm. It is about keeping in step with the Spirit. It is about keeping "in sync" with the beat of God's heart.

How do we do that? How do we keep "in sync" with God's heart? 
  • Is there some simple 3-step method to achieving perfect rhythm? 
  • Is there some list of rules to obey that will guarantee we know when to enter and exit? 
  • Perhaps we can put together a checklist to help us. If we do this, this, this, and this, we can be certain of keeping the right rhythm, even through the more complex parts of life.
No, God doesn't work like that. No external set of rules can make us feel God's rhythm inside our hearts. It really did me little good to have my friends yelling at me to jump in when playing jump rope. Their instruction helped a little to mentally understand what I was supposed to do. I couldn't successfully jump in, though, until I felt that rhythm inside of me.

The good news is that keeping "in sync" with God's heart is really very simple. We keep "in sync" with Him simply by being with Him. As we spend time with Him, sharing our hearts with Him, listening with the ears of our hearts to what He has to say to us, and joining Him in reaching out in love to other, we begin to hear His heartbeat.

The more time we spend in contact with Him, both in special quiet times, and as we go about our daily activities, the more clearly we hear His heartbeat.

We don't have to be distracted by the noise and chaos of the day. Instead, as we notice something that could be a distraction, we can turn it back on itself and ask how God sees it. What do I mean?
  • When your toddler is fussy, deliberately ask, "God, how do You see this little guy right now? I want to pull my hair out, but what would You do?" He might give you an extra dose of compassion for your little one right when you need it. You are back "in sync" again.
  • When a car cuts you off on the freeway, you can say, "Father, it makes me so mad when people do that, but how do You see that person? ... Is there perhaps something going on in His life that needs Your touch? ... You want me to pray for him? ... OK, I will." Back "in sync".
You get the idea.  Do you want to live your life "in sync" with the beat of God's heart? You have to hear His heartbeat. Stay close to Him. Talk to Him and listen to Him all day long, in the middle of all the activity and chaos.

When you do, it doesn't matter if you have to turn around, touch the ground, hop on one foot, discipline your child, apologize to your spouse, or confront dishonesty in the workplace. When you hear God's heart for those around you, you can enter, exit, and everything in between because the beat you hear keeps you "in sync" with Him.

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