When we read passages calling for us to die to ourselves, we often get the mistaken impression that we are not to enjoy life. The thought process goes that we should work hard to support our families, work hard at home to take care of all of our responsibilities, and use up whatever time is left in various ministries. Children seem to understand that although playing may seem fruitless, and may even seem like work, it is a necessary part of life. The definition of playing isn’t so much being involved in a game, or pretending to be an astronaut or competing; it is simply the act of enjoying where you are, and releasing all cares. For kids, it applies when you are intensely vying for a victory in a sport, or simply laughing for no reason.
One song that we sing at my church from time to time contains the following line in the chorus:
”La, la, la, la, la, la. La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la”
For the first few years after the introduction of this tune, when we came around to this line, I clammed up. “That’s not worshipping God!,” I would say to myself. But then, one day, our worship leader asked us to close our eyes while singing this part of the song, and imagine ourselves as kids playing in God’s presence. It was then that I got it. I now sing that line when the opportunity comes up. But it took a while; I had to get over my pride. I had to get over the idea that I somehow would look ridiculous if I sang that one line that was so, so . . . . childish.
One truth that is self-evident is that adults generally forget how to play. We are never commanded by God to stop playing. The only one stopping us is us. In fact, God has told us to take time out every week and rest. In the Old Testament, it was referred to as the Sabbath. This is not a matter of whether or not we are under the Law. The point is that God made us in such a way that we need time to not be so serious, to not think about work, to not be stressed; to rest, to play. By “rest” I don’t mean sitting around doing nothing. I mean freeing yourself from those things in life which only bring stress, and do not bring any enjoyment. (Another way to look at “rest” is to be still and be willing to let the Lord hold you. This is covered in the next chapter)
If we are to use the willingness of children to play as a model for us, it stands to reason that we look at the conditions in which they are willing to play. Much to the chagrin of my mother, I was one of the 99% of kids who didn’t mind playing in the rain.
Rain has often been used as a metaphor for trouble in our lives. Certainly, biblical accounts involving real rain have been used to illustrate spiritual principles.
Look at Luke 8:24, which starts out: “and they came to Him and woke Him up, saying . . . “
When Jesus was sleeping on the boat, a storm came, and the apostles woke Him out of fear. They knew when they feared something, they should run to Him. This seems like a sound response, doesn’t it? There is nothing wrong to looking to God when times get tough. And in fact, He came through for them. When they woke Him, He calmed the sea, just as they hoped he would.
However, what He did next surprised them: He chastised them for lack of faith, for their lack of willingness to ride out the storm. The problem wasn’t that they woke him up, but that they were afraid. Fear is not of God. Fear of circumstances means we are focused on the circumstances instead of Him. It means that, deep down, we have a belief that the storms are bigger than what He can handle.
A better reaction would have been to look at this storm as an opportunity for God to be glorified. If they would have had that mindset, and then gone to Jesus to wake Him, He would not have admonished them. He never complained that they woke Him up; He complained that they had no faith.
Test: When catastrophe strikes, do you immediately look to your circumstances, and let fear take over? Or do you confidently go before Him, and pray that He would get the glory for calming the storm?
Pride Check: Are you to embarrassed raise your hands up to God (as a child who wants to be scooped up by an adult)? Do you see some Christians dancing before the Lord, and feel awkward just being around them?
Big Mud Puddles and Sunny Yellow Dandelions
When I look at a patch of dandelions, I see a bunch of weeds that are going to take over my yard.
My kids see flowers for Mom and blowing white fluff you can wish on.
When I look at an old drunk and he smiles at me, I see a smelly, dirty person who probably wants money and I look away.
My kids see someone smiling at them and they smile back.
When I hear music I love, I know I can't carry a tune and don't have much rhythm so I sit self-consciously and listen.
My kids feel the beat and move to it. They sing out the words. If they don't know them, they make up their own.
When I feel wind on my face, I brace myself against it. I feel it messing up my hair and pulling me back when I walk.
My kids close their eyes, spread their arms and fly with it, until they fall to the ground laughing.
When I pray, I say thee and thou and grant me this, give me that.
My kids say, "Hi God! Thanks for my toys and my friends. Please keep the bad dreams away tonight. Sorry, I don't want to go to Heaven yet. I would miss my Mommy and Daddy."
When I see a mud puddle I step around it. I see muddy shoes and dirty carpets.
My kids sit in it. They see dams to build, rivers to cross, and worms to play with.
I wonder if we are given kids to teach or to learn from? No wonder God loves the little children!
Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
I wish you Big Mud Puddles and Sunny Yellow Dandelions!!!
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