After defining both spontaneity and routine yesterday, I probably left you with the impression that spontaneity is good while routine is bad. I must confess, I do love spontaneity and wish the routines weren’t necessary. But that’s not true to life. A routine can help you establish an important rhythm in your life. Routines are like training wheels designed to help us practice the new rhythm until it comes naturally. The problem with routines? They work… at first. So well, in fact, that we forget their purpose is to establish a rhythm. Before long, we begin thinking our shiny new routine is the goal in and of itself.
God may call you to get up early to pray and study the Bible for a season. Excellent. Go for it. That does not mean you should do it every day without fail, every single day for the rest of your life. It’s amazing (and tragic) how many Christians believe their routines (or just as often, the ones they admire in others) are the only godly way to live their Christian life. I know people who get on their knees and confess a break in their routine to God as contritely as if they had snorted a line of coke.
People like me. I did that.
The New Testament describes rhythms of faith. It never prescribes routines. Jesus, for example, regularly withdrew to pray. That’s the rhythm. It never says he did this daily, or every second Tuesday. It never lists start times, durations, how to create a prayer list, or even how to have these things we call devotions. I dare you to find a place in the New Testament that does.
It’s not there, because God knows that left to themselves, routines always become the same religious ruts he died to free us from. Yes, I said always. When left to themselves.
The purpose of spontaneity is to keep our routines honest. They deliberately break up our routinized motions, preventing them from becoming deadly ruts that kill the soul. If your walk with God doesn’t regularly surprise and even delight you, if the routine doesn’t change or evolve, if it feels like you’ve got a good handle on your walk with God, if you don’t know what you’d do without your routine, newsflash—you’re already in a rut.
The problem with undiluted spontaneity, on the other hand, is that it leaves too much to chance. Total disconnect lies one slippery slope away, beckoning us to do nothing at all. If your walk with God never leans into a routine, never embraces seasons of structure, you’re already on your way to a kind of shipwreck.
When I joke with parents wrestling with their roles, I often say, “It’s mom’s job to tell their child, “Get down from that tree. You’ll break your neck!” And it’s dad’s job to say, “No, just a little higher. I think you can reach that branch.” They’re both right. Routines and spontaneity balance each other. They’re the two legs rhythm stands and dances on. Rhythm is the word I use to describe a life that’s embraced just the right balance of both. It’s a life shaped by seasons, by cycles, by ebb and flow, desert and jungle, mountain and valley, passion and diligence. It’s Psalm 23 in living colour.
But now I’m rambling.