Ian from wintry Sydney here. Happy 4th of July for all my American friends. Fiona and I were reflecting the other night how ‘play’ has changed so much for our children and grandchildren. Being born in the 1960s and growing up in the 1970s, we’d spend hours and hours a day playing. Swimming in the pool, riding our bikes with our friends, exploring the wonders and joys of the bushland, or simply using our imaginations to make up games and stories using basic objects like clothes pegs, shoe boxes and so on.
What fun! Life growing up was pretty simple. We didn’t need much money or things, just an active imagination and a willingness to experiment. We entertained ourselves.
The all-pervasive nature of electronic entertainment is so addictive for us all and our children. We have a plethora of screens to choose from and can find it easy to become a passive consumer of entertainment.
A Busy Life
A couple of months ago I wrote about the Sabbath and why I’m only now beginning to understand why it’s important. Remember, God doesn’t give us a gold star if we practice the Sabbath, nor does He frown on us if we don’t. That’s not His way of loving us. Heck, He doesn’t need a Sabbath, but He still rested on the seventh day. Why? He knows it’s good for us.
Increasingly, as life gets busier and more distracted, plus the issues of climate change, poverty and over consumption, there are many who are now advocating that we look at simplifying our lives.
Even church life has got busy. If you’re a member of even a moderately sized church, there are often so many choices for what to participate in. Once again, these activities are mostly all good things. Why wouldn’t we participate in one or two?
Firstly, why do it? My answer is a very simple one: to enjoy Jesus more. When caught up in all manner of activities, we simply miss out on spending good quality time with Jesus. Just being with Him. Or when we are with Jesus, we’re so distracted we aren’t fully present and miss out on all there is to receive.
We end up relying on ourselves or others to help us make decisions, some that may be very important. Look what David says in Psalm 25:
“Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.
The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.” (v12-15 NIV UK)
He will instruct us in all our decisions. If we ask, and if we set our eyes on Him. And that takes time. I’ve learned that the way of the Kingdom is gentle and slow.
How do we do it?
We learn to say, No. I’m at a stage in life where I’m an empty nester and have flexibility in my day. Yes, it’s luxurious at present. But, I’m expecting it to be only a season. Time for me to consolidate so when a new season of ‘potential busy’ comes upon me.
We become intentional in certain practices. Solitude, stillness, Sabbath, special time with loved ones and friends. We learn to be present with others. Switch off devices for periods in a day. Yes, we really can survive time without them.
And we play. Have some fun. Dance. Smile. Listen well, love well, observe well. Find a place in nature to sit, to wander, to dream, to connect with Jesus.
Over to you now. How do you switch off and slow down? Be lovely to share in the comments so we can encourage each other. And if you’re in a particularly busy season and struggle to do any of this, why not share that too. Perhaps in sharing we can help carry another’s struggles.
Grace and peace, friends.