The Surprising Benefits of Routine
Meeting God in the Midst of Regular Life
Have you noticed that the word “routine” has a bad rap? We sometimes use the word as though it means “boring” “unimaginative” or “mindless”. We associate the idea of routine with an unpleasant job that a person must go to in order to earn a living or a relationship which has lost the excitement and romance. But though we often complain about routine, in a way it is a relief to be under the security of a schedule rather than living in the relative open-endedness of holiday breaks or vacations.
Even if they won’t admit it, kids sense this in their suppressed excitement when classes resume after a lengthy break. The truth is, schedules provide a wholesome channel into which we can funnel our energy and time.
I have sometimes heard people object to church attendance for the same reason that students gripe about going back to school: its routine nature. The fact is, regular participation in church life can indeed be pretty routine. Who hasn’t yawned their way through church on occasion? Yet perhaps this very fact is a point in favor of regular church attendance: life itself is pretty mundane most of the time too. So why not meet God in a routine?
One of the myths of our age is that life should be exciting. The television sit-coms and soaps portray make-believe people whose lives are always full of happenings. People who are regular watchers (because its part of their routine) come to expect thrilling lives as well. Of course, reality is not that way at all. Real life is full of Monday mornings and rather short Saturday afternoons. My point is that since life contains a heavy dose of the routine, one of the best ways to cope with living is a consistent involvement in church because it gives us the perspective and the tools to live the rest of the week. This is not to suggest that its OK if church is boring. As a pastor and church leader, I am committed to the kind of ministry which reveals the fulfillment and joy and peace that come with following Christ. We often do God a disservice when we portray him as bland and humdrum. I have personally attended services which couldn’t end soon enough. I would like to think I haven’t designed too many that way myself.
But the very act of hearing God’s word taught and being with his people on Sunday equips us to face the world on Monday. The very routine-ness of church life can be a strength in disguise because we learn to meet God in the routine. After all, it was the Creator who commanded Israel to build their lives around a very simple routine: six days of work and a day of rest.
So why not put regular worship into your routine schedule? For some, the adjustment will be relatively minor. For others it may mean a more thorough reworking of priorities. Either way, it will bring order and regularity to life which at times can seem out of control.
Michael Bogart mbogart.com
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