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Honoring Life’s Rhythms

You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to use,
to bring forth food from the earth,
and wine to gladden the human heart,
oil to make the face shine,
and bread to strengthen the human heart….

You have made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting.

You make darkness, and it is night,
when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.

The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.

When the sun rises, they withdraw
and lie down in their dens.

People go out to their work
and to their labor until the evening. (Ps 104:14-15, 19-23)

My father-in-law, who is in his eighties, still gets up with the sun every morning, fixes himself and his wife some breakfast, puts some wood in the furnace, and tinkers around in his garden. He has spent his life working on farms in southern Kentucky and will one day probably be buried in his Dickey work clothes. Whenever I think about “honoring life’s rhythms,” I can’t help but think of him and others of his generation.

All of Psalm 104 praises God as Creator. Verses 14-23 describe the natural rhythms of life in an agricultural society: enjoyment of the fruits of creation (vv. 14-15), the natural ebb and flow of the seasons (v. 19), and the cycle of day and night (vv. 20, 22).

In this context, our normal human rhythm of work and rest (v. 23) is a natural corollary. God didn’t make us machines that stay on the go twenty-four hours a day. Nor did God make us a race of lotus-eaters destined for a life of ease. (Even in the garden of Eden there was work to be done!). A healthy life requires a balance of meaningful work and restorative leisure. We disregard this balance to our detriment.

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