Sunday, August 15, 2010

Switching Ruts on the Road of Life

Cultural wisdom says that ruts are bad.  Repetition leads to boredom.  Newer is better.

I am sitting in church this morning, and the choir starts their number for the morning service.  Now it has been years since I have had the pleasure of hearing a good old-fashioned church choir, with their timeless harmonies and instrumental backup.  Really one of the purest forms of music around.  They are singing "In Christ Alone," a song which meant alot to me when we sang it in chapel my freshman year.  Here are the lyrics if you want to read them.

The words are very inspirational to me.  The song progresses through Christ's life, showing that through his love we are comforted, through His death we are justified, and through His resurrection we have power.  It is emphasizing the power of the exchanged life in Christ and how we can find our all in Him.  This song was very special to me when I was facing a test or other challenge my first year of college.  It helped me to realize that I was not alone in my own strength.

So as I am having fond memories and appreciating the deep spiritual truths of this song, the choir switches to a verse from Amazing Grace.  For a kid who grew up in an independent Baptist church in Smyrna, Georgia, I really appreciate the use of classic hymns in a modern, relevant musical setting.  In fact, now I'm starting to envy the choir.  Although my voice is probably best reserved for singing in the car along with The Eagles, Chicago, or REO where only a copilot is forced to listen, I wish I could partake in these awesome songs.

Then the music leader does something I have never seen in 22 years of church attendance.

He invites the congregation to stand and join in with the choir.

How did I have this marvelous experience?'

For the past two years at school, I have had a rocky church experience.  I started going to campus church, but for someone who has the religious background I described above, fog machines and disco lights don't make you feel very comfortable.  I tried a local southern baptist church, but let's just say my age group wasn't very well represented.  I had finally attended Jerry Falwell's church on the other side of campus, but I didn't like the idea of my spiritual life taking the Falwell brand in addition to my school and work life.

The only bright spot in my church attendance had been when I was home in Phoenix, attending my family's churches.  I enjoyed the welcoming, relaxed atmosphere.  So much so that I started to doubt if the more conservative East Coast environment had anything that could match the T-shirt, shorts and flip flop attire of the Arizona congregations.

Fast forward to my first weekend at school.  I decided to go with my friend Nate to a local church he has attended in the past.  I felt welcomed, and appreciated the whole service, especially the part I described above.

So are ruts in life all bad?  They can be, but I think repetition is an important part of a balanced life.  I look forward to establishing a new tradition of attending a church, quite possibly this one, every weekend while at school.

So when life gives you time to catch up and take a breath - for me this is the beginning of a school semester - take the chance to evaluate the ruts you are in, and decide if you need to switch tracks on the road of life!  You just might find yourself settling into a new routine and singing along to your favorite song.

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