A Time to Play

Hi everyone, Rob here.

Last week our family travelled up north for the funeral of Kiley’s 94 year old Nana. I was taking the funeral and it was a big deal with IMG_2566lots of family travelling from near and far to be there. It went well and we had a great time together. After that I was off to Ponui Island for a men’s camp where I was speaking. Again it went well and a great time was had. At both events I was the up-front guy giving out. This meant that I needed input for my heart in order to avoid having nothing left for the family at the end of it all. At both events the input came by doing something I don’t do often enough – goof around with the guys.

After the funeral we got together after the wake and enjoyed a good meal, a few beers and hilarious games of pool. There were a lot of laughs, even though we don’t see each other that often and our lives are completely different. My heart needed it at the end of an emotionally trying day. At the end of the men’s camp we were waiting for the boat to take us home when a few of us started hitting a few shots with a golf club. This soon became a friendly competition (it was a men’s camp after all!), again with some laughter and the low-key nature of it was perfect at the end of a camp where we had talked about some important issues.

Life is serious. We live in a spiritual battle. Between the world, the flesh and the devil we are constantly under threat. Life is so serious that the Son of God had to come and experience crucifixion in order to deal with the sin that had infested our hearts. But for life to be truly life we also need joy, laughter, spontaneity and fun. We need the playfulness of Jesus to invade us as much as we need his wisdom and grace. His playfulness is clearly on show after his resurrection. He ‘hides’ himself as he walks with 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus, feigning ignorance as they describe the events of the last few days. He calls out to the guys while they’re fishing, asking about their catch, again not revealing himself. they recognise him, come to him, only to find him cooking them breakfast. He walks through these scenes with a lightness of spirit, enjoying the guys and passing on the life that he has won from the jaws of death.

Jesus has come to give us life and that means being unafraid of joy, of lightness of spirit and of play. The war is real but life can’t always be lived on the front lines. Nor can it be lived in the playground. Life is about enjoying the ‘unforced rhythms of grace’ as The Message puts Matthew 11:29. Jesus says this happens when we come to him and learn from him. He was playful, but also focused, cunning, subversive, disruptive and free. He invites us to experience this “playful, disruptive, extravagant personality” (as John Eldredge puts it in his book, “Beautiful Outlaw”) by drawing near to him, trusting him and inviting his life to fill our life.

So, how are you going to do this? Put some music on and dance with your kids? Go climb a tree? Hit the golf course with a few buddies and hold loosely to the score? Go bowling and try it with your weaker hand? We all need to lose some inhibitions and fear of embarrassment. There are just times when the best thing to do is tear up theto-do list and goof off with Jesus. May we be like Peter who put his clothes on (!) and swam to Jesus desperate to be near him.

Blessings

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