A few days ago I finished Ken Shigematsu’s, God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God. This was the first book to read for our cohort as we launched into the doctoral studies at Fuller Seminary. Rather than a book on the intricacies of research or mission or theology, or a combination of any of these, this provided for an smooth take-off into this 4-year program of study. The goal was for our group to consider particular rhythms to enact over our program of study.
The book is of a similar vein as such spiritual classics as Richard Foster’s, Celebration of Discipline, and Dallas Willard’s, The Spirit of the Disciplines. The book draws us in to develop what the subtitle makes clear: developing a rhythm in life, as the saints of old have done for centuries, in order to help busy people enjoy the presence of God.
Now, the usual terminology for such practices is disciplines or spiritual disciplines. For many, if not most, that sounds about as much fun as having a root canal! This is why I appreciate Shigematsu’s use of the word rhythms. We already have rhythms of some sort in our lives – from sleep to eating to work to study to family (or a lack thereof). But how do we develop rhythms that help us enjoy the presence of God. That’s the goal – to enjoy God’s presence. As the author himself states:
The purpose of the rule, in this sense, is not to be harsh or confining. It is to cultivate fruit. (p21)
In particular, Shigematsu suggests 12 rhythms, laid out in the illustration below. It’s likened to a vine growing through the support and guidance of a trellis.
I’d argue that, in one way or another, each of these are important rhythms for the life of Christ-followers. Perhaps we might label some as more important than others, but it seems a somewhat moot point in consideration of all of these being integrated into the mosaic of life.
The only problem I have with the book is the association of Sabbath rest with a 24-hour period. No doubt that, in the Law, the Israelites were expected to rest from their work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. That’s right, it wasn’t Sunday. However, as new covenant believers, I am convinced the Sabbath of God is found in Christ, as I believe Hebrews 3-4 makes clear. Still, I would never disagree that rest from our work is something essential for the human race, and especially God’s people who are called to model the reality that we will not be enslaved to our work. Hence, I put this area of rest as one of the rhythms. It will be a challenge for me, no doubt.
In all, for those looking to engage with spiritual formation within our 21st century context, this is a good book to help launch us towards such formation. As we look to create rhythms in life, we will see windows opened towards more enjoyment of God.