My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
I have never been good at jumping rope, despite many attempts in my childhood years. One thing that impressed me, however, were the children who could double jump, meaning there were two ropes going at one time. It’s an impressive feat even to be able to swing two ropes at the same time, let alone jump them, and I couldn’t do either.
One thing I remember about the double jumping was that the person who was jumping didn’t just stand there and the rope swingers started swinging the ropes. No, the two people swinging the two ropes could start swinging them, get them going at a steady clip, and then the jumper would jump in and start jumping rope. The jumper, I would remember, would stand to the side while the two ropes were going and move her (I don’t remember any guys being good at jumping) hands in time to the ropes that were swinging in the air, and when she felt she had the timing down, she would jump in and be in sync. And she wouldn’t jump in until she felt she was in sync.
The uneasy feelings of the world today have made many of us feel out of sync—with people in general, with people who matter, and even with ourselves. We feel out of sync, out of sorts.
One thing to do when we feel like this is to get in sync with God, and also with ourselves. Like the girl jumping rope, we don’t just jump in haphazardly. Rather, we try to get the timing down and then jump in. Since we can’t really master the time of the chaotic world, instead, we should get in sync with God’s time and then take that into the chaotic world. Imagine a heart that beats in sync with God. A heart like that is very equipped to take on the chaos of the world and not be drowned on it.
How can we get a heart that is like God’s? Spend time with Him. The person trying to time the jump rope can’t very well do it with their back to the swinging ropes. They wouldn’t be able to see what they were doing. In the same way, we can’t very well get in sync with God if we never spend time with Him—if we never pray, if we never worship, if we never read Scripture, if we never serve others, and if we never reflect on Him.
We need to spend time praying. This is how we communicate with God. It doesn’t need to be a long time. It needs to be some time. It needs to be every day.
We need to read Scripture. I’ve written many times that it is important to “sit with Scripture.” It is important to read some scripture, and then absorb what you’ve read. If you dump a gallon of water on a newly potted plan, the water will actually not absorb into the soil. The deluge will quickly roll off the soil and into another part of the yard. That’s why you water the plan slowly, so that the soil absorbs the water. It’s the same way with reading Scripture. If we try to read fifty chapters of Scripture in one sitting, we probably won’t absorb much. Better to read a short section, and then ask God to open your heart and help you absorb what you’ve read. This happens when we read footnotes in the Bible, or when we make our own notes about what we’ve read.
Worship is another important way to stay in sync with God. Worship as a weekly event helps us stay in sync, because it is regular, planned and consistent. In the Orthodox Church, we also have cycles of feast and fasts that are more intense and help us to get back in sync if we’ve fallen out of sync, or if we are in sync, to take our spirituality and relationship with God to another level
Prayer, scripture and worship are mostly inwardly focused. Service to others is where the outward focus comes in. God said we are to love Him, but that is not enough. To truly love God and to be in sync with Him is to have the heart of a servant, who actually serves God by serving others. Philanthropy, charity and help for others is essential to staying in sync with the heart of God.
Finally, there is reflection on God, something that most people don’t think about. Do you ever have thoughts of heaven? Or what it might be like to stand in the presence of God? Even if these thoughts end up being not completely accurate, do you still have them? Many people in high school have some idea about college—it might even be the wrong idea, but at least it is an idea. This “idea” leads to the thought that college is something good that they want to participate in. If no high school student ever had thoughts about college, no one would go to college. College happens because people think about it, they talk about it with others, they talk about it with people who have been to college and then they want to go to college. We should think about heaven, we should talk with people who share the same desire to go to heaven, and this will serve to get us more in sync with God because we will be thinking about the ultimate destination—heaven, with God.
Being in sync with God is important in the Christian life. If we are habitually (or sadly, joyfully) doing things that are incongruent with the Christian life, then we will not be in sync with God. Like the kid wanting to double jump with the jump rope, we need not worry about our safety or success if we get the timing down. For the Christian, we need not worry for our journey or destination in the Christian life if we’ve gotten ourselves in sync with God.
Lord, thank You for the gift of a new day, and the possibilities that can come on this new day. I know that this is hard, and will take a lifetime of work, but I want a heart like Yours. I want my heart to beat in sync with Yours. Help me to have this desire today and always. Fill me with Your joy, so that I can get my life in sync with the way You have called us to live. And in the times when I feel out of sync, send people to encourage me to get back on track, and create within me my own desire to long for You and to be what You have called me to be. Amen.
If you are out of sync, there is good news. You can get back in sync any time, and there isn’t a waiting period. Start today!