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Play Ball!

Kevina never met a toy she didn’t like. From the giant Jolly (horse) ball that tumbles across the pasture with the wind to the little red one that’s lamb-size, Kevina reminds me that “all work and no play makes [Jack] a dull boy.” Well, that’s the expression, but feel free to insert any name—including your own—if the shoe fits. In this case, I’ll insert mine.

Summer’s just around the bed. Lambing season is done and gone, and with it, all the extra work it brought to daily farm life. The weather has been sunny, warm, and dry, perfect for horseback riding, hiking in the cool forests, or kayaking on the many creeks and rivers of Tennessee. We installed a swimming pool this spring and it’s shimmering water surely holds invisible sirens of the sea because they perpetually call me to put down the dang muck rake and jump in.

And yet, I resist.

Just one more trough to fill. Just one more weed to pull. Just one more stall to clean.

And I’m getting duller by the minute.

I’ve found that some Christians scorn the biblical phrase, “eat, drink, and be merry (or joyful or glad). (Ecc. 8:15). The sternest of the lot murmur under their breaths and borrow a little bit from the prophet Isaiah: “for tomorrow we die.”

But that’s a pretty mixed-up bag. What Ecclesiastes 8:15 does say is:

Therefore I praised joy, because there is nothing better for mortals under the sun than to eat and to drink and to be joyful; this will accompany them in their toil through the limited days of life God gives them under the sun.

In other words, it’s important to allow our daily work and pressures to be accompanied by holy intermissions of rest, play, joy, pleasing food, and quenching drink. Scripture assures us that our mortal bodies and eternal souls should seek this refreshment, and rightly so, because our days under this sun are indeed limited. God didn’t intend them for our mere toil. They are to be counted as joy, a gift from God, with the understanding that someday they will end. Therefore, the psalmist prays:

Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. (Ps. 90:12)

I think, then, an important part of wisdom is knowing when to put down the muck rake — don’t you?

Like little Kevina, who can’t count days but instinctively knows how to eat, drink, and be merry so that she will mature into the magnificent, happy, Valais Blacknose sheep the Lord has in mind (or in other words, into “the cutest sheep in the world!"), so too, we are made to resist dullness and lean into joyful interludes of lightness, brightness, and refreshment, even as we toil on our farms, in our barns, in our offices, and in our homes.

As it turns out, being merry isn’t just for Christmas. It’s for every time and season under the sun. So, what’s stopping you? After all, you have God's permission!

That clatter you hear is my muck rake hitting the floor. And that splash? Well…I think you know.

Go ahead. Jump in, the water really is fine!


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