“Come, let’s shout praises to God, raise the roof for the Rock who saved us!” Psalm 95:1 (The Message)
When you think about God or when you think about Jesus living on the earth as a human for 33 years, what comes to mind? A Judge? Ruler? Someone scowling all the time? Maybe you still think of Him as Someone in authority but a little kinder so the image of a Shepherd comes to mind…in control, having to be brave and strong but with a gentle side when He wants to?
I have to admit, growing up I had the image of Someone who loved me, but was ready to lay down the law when I stepped out of line. I never really remembered reading anything in the Bible about Jesus having fun…making jokes, laughing with His disciples. He was their Teacher, Guide, Lord. He came to earth to fulfill a mission and it was a very serious mission at that – saving people from their sins and giving them a chance to choose eternity in Heaven versus eternity in hell. What is more serious than that?
However, there was another side to Jesus. He was described multiple times as their Friend. He also loved children. When you think of children, what comes to mind? When I think of children, or just take five minutes to listen to the kids in my house, I think of laughter! That uninhibited, innocent, not-a-care-in-the-world laughter. I think of singing and then I think of silly songs at that. I think of how my kids can make the most mundane chores fun by adding a few twists of their imagination. I think of absolute forgiveness when presented with a genuine apology. I think of sticky hugs and kisses that knock me over with enthusiasm. Why sticky? Because they were either eating something drippy and delicious or finding adventure in the sand and dirt. I think of, “Mom, come look!” “Watch this!” “Come quick – you DON’T want to miss this!”
This summer our family was given an opportunity to relax, refresh, and have FUN with family for a week. Lazy days filled with adventure exploring places some had been but new to others, long nights filled with laughter over games, swimming, and relaxing in the hot tub. Lots of memory making and inside jokes that make sense to no one but those who were invited to the original party.
That atmosphere ended up being brought home with us in our suitcase and continued the rest of the summer. Bonfires with extravagant, new recipe S’mores for no reason except “because.” Visits to the zoo to pet reptiles because we could, free ice cream cones because its hot, swimming in the pool because it’s there. Choosing to spend time with relatives who live far away and we only get to see in the summertime. Spending time with relatives who live here because we love them. Taking time for conversations that don’t include, “Would you please clean…?” Movie marathons on hot, sticky stormy weekend afternoons. Pulling out games that used to be favorites while singing new songs learned at camp.
This summer our family rediscovered the power of play. Our house is messier this fall then it was last fall, but I rediscovered a different valuable lesson instead. The work will always be there and yes, it will get accomplished. But play, at times, is just as valuable as hard work. It’s not optional, but sometimes mandatory to help build those memories that last. Then, together we can tackle the work that is necessary and everyone can contribute to making it feel like play.
© Cheri Swalwell 2015