Grace and Play for the Family
Fortune 500 companies have different hiring standards than other companies because they focus on the end goal – success. Their quality control does not start with the first day; it starts with the hiring process. One of the things you will need to share with these companies are the hobbies or sports you are involved in. Some even ask what professional journals you read. This is not to find common ground but to see if a person has a balanced life. Are you someone who has an internal support system that feeds you? Can you regulate your own emotions and behaviors outside of a work environment through rest, play and reward? What motivates you, strengthens you? One area that can yield many results is the area of play.
Play improves communication and increases a couple and families “story”. In the article “Why adults should play, too” Amy Chillag, ( http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/02/health/why-adults-should-play-too/index.html ) points out many good reasons to add play into one’s life. Two benefits mentioned in this article are increased productivity and communication. She also highlights the National Institution for play (http://www.nifplay.org/) which is a nonprofit group that researches play. Its founding member states in the same article that laughter “has been linked to decreased stress and inflammation and may improve vascular health. Your blood pressure goes down,” he said. “You release dopamine.” In a culture that is stressed out in many arenas, play is a great antidote and something practical we can do to help our marriages and families. Additionally, if churches employ times of rest and play it will increase the awareness of the need for recreation in families.
We were at a pastors conference a while back and one of the leaders decided to publicly thank the speaker. He gave him a gift certificate for Bass Pro. What a classy gift. More importantly this leader (Bishop T. Brown) set a standard that play and recreation are important. Exercise and fun bring great rewards. This leader demonstrated that to his people. The value of recreation was shared in a group that typically contains many busy leaders. Does God care about our whole person? Absolutely.
So how does one process this concept of play or even understand it in light of the scripture “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work? John 9:4 This is important to keep as a priority, it is imperative to work for God’s kingdom, However there are some who feel carnal if they do not crash into bed nightly after working 12 hour days. Many in our society never take a break to enjoy God or their family. If we define legalism it would include strict adherence and working hard to attain something. If we no longer “earn” salvation how do we process “work” and play? People will debate til sundown about not being “legalistic” regarding rest but its rare to hear anyone say that about working. Are we driven as a society or gently led by the whispers of a Holy Spirit?
These two ideas are not antithetical – they are complementary. Because work is so important, this concept is imperative to practice. Research shows that the best workers have a balance of rest/hobbies/play in their lives. They know when to stop and when to start. In our city we have many homeless people, unemployed and people with disabilities who cannot work. Others work in areas they are not trained in, feeling under utilized and under valued. Work is a gift and a great joy. Working and crowding out rest, delight and family however is a burden. Either extreme will create an imbalance. God’s solution is just right… Work six, rest one. Play is part of rest. People get so focused on not working that they forget there is a call to delight and joy!
God’s word has time tested wisdom worth following. Scripture has said that for years but legalistic folks made God seem bitter, angry and no fun at all. The same God who created man also told man to rest. The author of the book of Judges is also the author of Song of Songs. In our culture people like to camp out in either extreme. It takes common sense and healthy people to walk it out somewhere in between. God worked six days and then rested for one. The God who created the puffer fish and pink flamingo – surely He knows how to enjoy life! He spent time with man/woman and then we see Him commissioning them to labor. It was about relationship and fellowship in that garden – not formula or regulation. Restoring “rest” does not mean rigid rule keeping but getting back to that place of wholeness and blameless relationship.
When we play, we “re-create”, we pause from doing the worlds work and enter into fellowship and joy with God and others. Do we do this every day? Not if we want the lights to stay on. Sometimes we need to do homework, dishes, laundry. Do we work till we drop and make just a little more money? No, that’s a guarantee for burn out or strokes.
Our families need to gaze in our eyes and see what love is written there.
What if people were so refreshed, so content, so full that they not only did their tasks everyday but had enough reserve to spill over and bless other people? What if “playing” taught skills you don’t typically learn at the altar? What if laughing created memories to bring people back to the field again and again?
The men at the church we attend recently went out skeet shooting. That next Sunday they were all glowing, smiling — as if they had been praying. Maybe because they were together in the presence of the One who loves fellowship and created joy? Isaiah 65:24 says while they were speaking, God HEARD. They spent time with those who knew their first native “language”. This was not husband or dad talk, just head nods and grunts. Play is different with different genders.
Our denomination recently invited all the pastors and their spouses to come play for a weekend. Couples ate out, attended a show and had a time of fellowship. The overseer (T.Powell) uses these times of rest to connect with the leaders and it also gives pastors time to connect with their spouse. These playing, eating “fun” times are also spiritual because they build support and friendships that yield strength during tough times. How do we come to God as children if we have no practice time being enjoyed or “silly”? Just a random thought, if seminaries had recreation as a spiritual formation discipline, would our pulpits reflect more rest or grace?
Some may play too much and some may pray too much but if we follow the Lord things turn out, just right. If you do either too much, there is a heavenly umpire to nudge us back to home plate. But if you sit in the stands week after week you won’t ever hit any home-runs personally or with your family. Getting active takes risk but yields reward. So, as we wrestle with working for God and resting in Him, let’s aim to work six days and then make plans to play for one. Playing all week or working all week – either extreme will take a toll.
My grandfather Oliver used to say, “I’d rather be out fishing talking to God than in church thinking about fishing.” His kind heart and laughter refreshed many. Fresh hearts delight God. I don’t recall many specific things he said but I’ll never forget baiting hooks and reeling in fish with grandpa. That outdoor time taught me who I was in his eyes –important. So, as carnal or trivial as this may sound, lift up your heads from your computers and cells phones, it’s time to “Plaaaay Ball!”
* Play/rest is one of the most spiritual, Biblical and theological things you can do with the promise of immediate and long-term benefits.
- Go to bass pro and practice archery, eat fudge, walk the store
- Go to the park and play horseshoes, take a walk
- Play basketball, soccer or volleyball
- Do a scavenger hunt in a local mall
- Play football, ping pong or Wii
- Go to the library and research something together
- Clean house together and win prizes for best decorator
- Find a photo booth and create new looks
- Create a newsletter together with all the photos
- Read your bibles and create songs, plays to go with the lessons
- Dance, exercise or learn a new activity – as a family
- Have a movie night complete with popcorn, soda and movie house candy
- Focus on the family http://www.focusonthefamily.com/
- Family life today http://familylifetoday.com/
- Communication/family http://www.newwayministries.org/
- http://www.thepentecostalfamily.org/ This website is produced by Pentecostal Theological seminary. They are students in the marriage and family counseling course. It is a great resource with helpful information.
- Please email me other sites that encourage/equip families.
Amy Chillag , CNN Special Projects. Nov.2, 2017. Accessed 11/16/17