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One day a week, we must choose nothing else but being with God, being with family, and being occupied with the things that make us feel alive

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Brian CarmackGenesis 2:3 "And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation."

"Stop!" yelled Dr. Herb Goodrich.

It was just days before our state high school choir competition. In a raised voice, our director took us to task.

"Your timing is off, and you want to know why? It's because half of you are buried in your music and you're not watching me!"

It wasn't the first time our Madrigal choir had issue with holding a consistent rhythm – we'd been down this road before. We were an easily distracted choir, and when we lost track of the choir director, our rhythm was the first to suffer and eventually the song would fall apart.

This particular piece of music was 32 pages long, at least twice as long as any song we'd done that year, and it was in German. Dr. Goodrich had a solution: "You will all need to memorize the song."

"What? He expects us to sing this from memory in less than a week?" I said to the student sitting next to me.

We, the choir, thought it an impossible task, but Herb knew us better than we knew ourselves.

Just five days later found the 28 of us and our fearless leader at the top choir competition in the state of Colorado. We sang with no music, all eyes were on the director, and rhythm was spot on. We took first place.

Rhythm. It's not just for music. Life has a certain cadence to it, and when that cadence is thrown awry by stress or other distractions, then schedules, relationships and life as a whole can fall into disarray.

Every life-form on earth has certain set of conditions that need to be maintained for that life to continue and be healthy and productive. Plant life needs air, water, soil and sunshine. Human life has a list of necessary ingredients but one that many times gets overlooked is rest.

Last year, I had a prescription change with an anti-seizure medication that I was taking. Unbeknownst to me, one of the side-effects of the new medication was potential sleeplessness. About a month into it, I was having major problems, lying awake in bed until 2 or 3 a.m. before falling asleep. I tried to maintain a consistent work schedule, getting up at 6 or 7 a.m. as if all was well. But eventually, after about two months, life came to a screeching halt. I had to pull away for an emergency vacation just to catch up on sleep and reset my life and medication.

Rest. It's something we cannot live without. Yes, there's the sleep kind of rest that we need every night, but I'm referring also to the Genesis 2 kind of rest that God chose to do on day 7 of Creation: Sabbath Rest.

Sabbath Rest is different from just desisting work. Yes, it's stopping the doing but equally important, it is stepping into being. What I mean is that it's one day a week where I simply choose nothing else but being with God, being with family, and being occupied with stuff that makes me feel alive.

And what happens when just these three things occupy my attention? The conductor of my life begins to bring me back to the rhythm that He originally designed for me to live by.

I usually spend the last hour of my 24-hour Sabbath listening. It's my quietest moment of the week. Why? Because the gears have wound down after being off life's treadmill for nearly a day, and I'm usually unplugged and off-grid. No phone, no social media, alone with God and my thoughts. It's there that He and I have a little discussion.

The discussion goes something like what the Psalmist David wrote in Psalm 139:23-24. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life."

As I look up from the busyness of doing, I see the Great Conductor of my life. And in those moments, he resets my perspective, pulling me back from a rhythm of anxiety. He then gives me a cadence that is easy to follow and lighter on the shoulders. He shows me my next steps in marriage, family and work. I come out of that Sabbath with a renewed sense of who I am. And as Dr. Herb set us on a course for winning, so too, my God has control and leads me in His way everlasting.

I wish I could say that I've got this Sabbath thing down, but nay, I am a work in progress.

There is a holy rhythm in life that God is inviting us into. The only way to get there is by coming back to the Creator's original plan for us all, "set aside a day and make it holy."

Brian Carmack serves as lead pastor at Eastside Church in Prineville. If you have questions or comments, he can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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