Child's Play

for the week of September 2, 2002
by Rubel Shelly

I hope you're getting this "FAX of Life" on Tuesday. Yesterday was Labor Day. My students at the university had the day off. No classes. People in many offices across the United States had a holiday. So did you relax?

Several recent studies indicate that I'm not the only Type-A personality in the world who finds it hard to chill out, loosen up, or otherwise take it easy. Maybe it was a gaggle of Type-A folks who generated the criticism of President Bush for taking a month of vacation this summer. (Does anybody really think the President of the United States walks away from his job when he is on vacation? Did you check his travel schedule for that period? Count the number of speeches he made? Give the poor guy a break – and a couple of rounds of golf!)

No less than Jesus had to take occasional breaks. "So many people were coming and going that Jesus and the apostles did not even have a chance to eat. Then Jesus said, ‘Let's go to a place where we can be alone and get some rest.' They left in a boat for a place where they could be alone" (Mark 6:31-32, CEV). "Jesus knows we must come apart and rest awhile," commented Vance Havner, "or else we may just plain come apart."

Lots of people, though, are so overcommitted and stressed out that they have no idea how to relax — without a few drinks, a couple of pills, or a mound of comfort food. And those pseudo-relaxants become crippling habits very quickly.

You need to find a way to work a little boredom into your life. (The concept of "working in" something sounds more appealing to the people who need this admonition than "relaxation" or "rest." The latter terms are even guilt-producing concepts for the worst offenders among us!)

Don't you remember the sabbath concept in Scripture? The fourth of the Ten Commandments requires us to find a balance among work, rest, and worship. The human body, mind, and spirit need down time. Time to make sense out of life. Time to focus on relationships — with God, family, and friends.

Work is the means to various noble ends in a human life. But it is not the meaning of your life. So when work crowds out the spiritual dimension of who you are and cripples your relationships, you've crossed into hazardous territory.

Albert Einstein once said, "Understanding physics is child's play when compared to understanding child's play." Does that give you any ideas?

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