The Importance of Standing Around Doing Nothing

. . . so on the seventh day he rested from all his work (Genesis 2:2). 

The drums that thundered during football season fell strangely silent in mid-November.

Upbeat arrangements of popular songs were replaced by slower pieces featuring lyrical woodwinds. The stadiums were replaced by auditoriums, fields gave way band rooms and orchestra shells. As seasons changed the music changed with them.

In September and October we drummers stood up all the time, providing the cadences that moved crowds, constantly pounding the daylights out of anything we could hit with a stick. In November, when the music changed, drummers became ‘percussionists’ and took a seat. Those high-brow arrangements seemed to provide plenty of work for drummers who could navigate the keys of the xylophone or hear pitch and tune the timpani mid-piece. That wasn’t me.

Counting Rests

Most often I found myself waiting on the occasional line that called for snare drum. And from time to time my sole contribution was to wait for one note – a singular moment when the music would crescendo, culminating in the crash of cymbals. Then back to my seat.

According to Psalm 150 God is well praised with the sound of crashing cymbals. I believe that. I love the sound of the cymbals. What I’ve never loved quite as much was counting measure after resting measure so that I’d know precisely when to let loose with the climactic crash. Praise is sweeter when the cymbals crash at the right time and on the right beat.

In other words, knowing when and how to contribute to the music often means giving careful attention to bar after bar of rests. The rests require just as much intentional engagement with the music as the moment of sound. What looks and feels like standing around doing nothing is in fact disciplined musicianship.

Counting rests, resting well, is critical for knowing when and how to stand up and do your job.

An Intentional Sabbath

As with percussionists and concert band, just so with you and the Sabbath. One of the most effective ways God has provided for us to ‘reset’ is through the gift of the Sabbath – but Sabbath keeping requires effort. Sabbath does not happen simply because the weekend rolls around. We jokingly speak of our work week as a welcomed respite from the exhausting demands of our weekend. Quite often, we’re not joking.

Within few days you’ll be facing another weekend. Chances are you’ve already made some plans. Now might be a good time to ask what it will mean for you to keep the Sabbath. If it is indeed a holy day, the Lord’s Day, it is worthy of some focused energy. What things would be life-giving and restorative on your Sabbath? What things have you planned to do that can wait?

Dallas Willard has said that “grace is the opposite of earning; it is not the opposite of effort.” This is true of the Sabbath. Sabbath keeping is rooted in grace, not rules. But like a good musician, we must be attentive and intentional about the resting. Those who rest well will play and work well.

What is one practice you can try this week that will turn an ordinary Sunday into a soul-restoring Sabbath?


Your call on our lives, O God, invites us to both work and rest. You give us work to do and ask us to participate in your work in this world. And you also invite us to rest, knowing that our work is never ultimate. Grant that we might be as intentional in our rest as we are in our labor, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

You Can Recover Your Life

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

I’ve only been robbed once in my life. And once is plenty.

There’s not much of a story to tell, really. No threats, no weapon, nothing scary or violent. I was robbed of my cell phone in broad daylight. While jogging (not running mind you) a motorist pulled up and through their rolled-down window told me a story of being lost and needing to make a call – but having no phone. Maybe it was southern hospitality, maybe it was stupidity – but I tried to help. At first, I kept my phone and made the call myself. But when that didn’t work, for whatever now suspicious reason, I gave this person my phone.

Big mistake. Within seconds and before I could fully grasp what was happening, the needy motorist took off. I was stunned. Stunned was soon joined by anger. And then Stunned and anger both took a back seat to embarrassment.

I was robbed because I was foolish. Naïve. I guess you could say my phone was taken from me, but it was taken because I gave it away, just handed it over.

On that day I was not ignorant or uninformed. I knew that there were people who would steal to get what they wanted. I knew that these thieves always left a victim – someone who had been robbed. But that information described things that sometimes happened to someone else. Never to me. Maybe that’s what makes a thief successful (if you can call it success). You’re never ready for them. You don’t know how close they are.

And the thief is often closer than you imagine.

The Thief Has A Name

There’s a sobering realism in the pages of the Bible. Anyone who thinks the Bible is a fairy tale book filled with wishful platitudes for people who can’t cope with this cold hard world, well . . . those people haven’t really read the Bible.

One of the jagged edges of truth you’ll find in scripture has to do with the constant presence and insidious tactics of a thief. Not the kind of thief that steals your phone while you’re jogging, not the kind of thief that breaks into your house while you’re asleep or away on vacation. No, this thief is at your elbow day and night, more than ready to take the most precious treasures you can possess.

This thief works hard to steal your peace, your joy, your sense of hope.

The thief has a name, and that name might explain why many walk through their days without giving his presence a second thought. Whatever name is used – the Devil, Satan, the Adversary – we don’t always take his presence seriously. But Jesus did, and Jesus told us exactly what he seeks to do.

Your soul, your faith, has an adversary. He is a thief intent on robbing you of the abundant life Jesus wants you to have. He’ll take your peace and leave you sleepless with anxiety. He’ll steal your joy and suffocate you with depression. He’ll rob you of hope and bury you with despair. The thief is always working and closer than you imagine.

Put First Things First

As we think about what it means for us to ‘reset’ at the start of a new year, there may be specific aspects of our life that come to mind. We may want to reset in the area of relationships, or finances, or physical health, or spiritual practices. But beneath all these there’s something more fundamental that we want to recover, or renew, in the days to come. What we’re truly seeking is nothing less than a full and abundant life.

The good news is that Jesus came to give you that life. He wants you to experience it, not just occasionally, but consistently. To walk with Jesus, to look to him daily in faith and trust, is to live with deep peace, rock-solid hope, and genuine joy.

But don’t be naïve. There is a thief, and he’s only too eager to rob you of what Jesus wants you to have.

I never recovered that phone. I notified the police, they listened politely, but basically said my story was all too common. My phone was gone. But you can recover the life you were meant to have. You can recover your peace, your joy, your hope. And you do this by looking to Jesus. Put first things first. That’s what it means to ‘reset.’

Yes, the thief is close – but Jesus places his Spirit within you. And by the Spirit you receive life in its fullness. Don’t settle for anything less.


Lord Jesus, you are the source of abundant life – the life we all yearn for and strive so hard to obtain, often in our own strength. Give us the grace we need to look to you, eyes wide open to the thief that would steal what you intend for us to have. We ask you to grant us life to the full by the gift of your Spirit. Amen.


We’ve All Been Cody Parkey

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)

A loss seemed inevitable Sunday evening. At least that’s the way it seemed to me.

Let me be clear that I wasn’t wanting to see the Philadelphia Eagles lose. I’ll pull for the Eagles any time. Any time, except when they line up opposite the Atlanta Falcons (dare I say it). With heart and grit the Eagles had managed to secure a one-point lead late in the game, but their opponent would not be denied this win on their own Chicago turf. Having moved the ball within field goal range, all the Bears needed was a kick. Their victory would be a close one, but a win is a win.

Enter Cody Parkey. This was his moment. I don’t know what his shoe size is, but that’s how many inches were sustaining the playoff dreams of a team and a city. I hardly need to narrate how this unfolded. The Eagles used a strategically called time-out to mess with Parkey’s head. And then the teams lined up a second time. The snap. The kick.

And then the shock. Stunned disbelief on both sides of the field.

The kick went too far left, struck the upright, ricocheted to the lower part of the goal post and fell into the endzone. Of course, one side of the field moved quickly beyond disbelief to elation. The other side appeared nearly paralyzed by what they’d just seen and by what it meant. There were plenty of cameras zeroed in on the reactions to Parkey’s failed kick. The facial expressions said it all.

Once It’s Done, It’s Done

Thousands witnessed this moment in Soldier Field, but the one face that gripped my attention was the face of the kicker. What was going through his mind as he watched the trajectory of the ball? What would it be like for him in the locker room? I’ve read that fans booed him off the field. Some speculate that he won’t be on the Chicago roster for the 2019 season.

I like winning, but my competitive inclinations fall far short of ‘fierce.’ Sure, I was glad to see the Eagles win. But that gladness was matched by a sense of grief for Cody Parkey.

Perhaps things aren’t truly as bad for Parkey as they seemed in the final seconds of Sunday’s game. On Monday the NFL determined that Parkey’s kick was actually ‘blocked’ – the ball’s path altered ever so slightly by a defender’s fingertip. There may be solace in that for Cody Parkey, except for one unaltered fact: the final score.

The hopes of the team rested with the kicker. The points needed for a win were his to secure. That did not happen.

A final score is indeed just that. Final. No one offered Cody Parkey a chance to do the kick over, to try again. Field goals are not done as a best of three endeavor. No, there’s one kick that counts and once that’s done, it’s done.

Time to ‘Reset’

Can you think of a moment in your life that you’d give anything to get back? A moment that you’d do differently if you could? You’ve grown up, you’ve learned some things, and if you could try again, you’d get it right. Most of us have such a moment. Some of us might have several. We’ve all been Cody Parkey – missing a moment, for whatever reason, and yearning for a do-over.

Here’s some good news for the start of a new year: the life of faith is not a field-goal. God doesn’t give us one chance to get it right. New beginnings are possible, even encouraged and invited. God’s mercies truly do come to us afresh with each new day, each new year. Is there an area of your life where you need to ‘Reset’ – come back at it in a fresh way, renewed and restored?

You were never meant to be defined by one missed moment. It’s possible to reset, and there’s no better time than right now.


Ever Patient God, your mercies come to us in new ways with each morning. We wake up every day knowing our need of your grace. We enter this year grateful for new beginnings. You make it possible for us to reset, to be renewed in our walk of faith as we rely on your Spirit. Guide us in these days, and in days yet to come we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.