By Shelly Esser
Some years ago my mom, sisters, and I attended a huge women’s conference in the Chicago area. We were looking forward to a weekend away for spiritual refreshment and fun. A few minutes into the main session, we began to smell something terrible. The familiar odor proceeded to get stronger as the session went on. We exchanged looks among ourselves, trying to ignore what was going on in back of us until we heard the clunk of a tin can.
Unbelievably, a woman had just finished eating a can of tuna! What’s worse, she got out a second can and proceeded to finish that off, discarding the empty can next to the other one under my sister’s seat! Now, throughout the rest of the conference, it wasn’t just the smell that was troublesome, but the constant clunking of tin cans every time the woman moved her feet.
I can understand having a snack, but a can of tuna in the middle of an auditorium filled with thousands of women? Somehow, it was very difficult to sing praise songs! We tried to compose ourselves. Needless to say, we laughed the entire way home and still chuckle every time we think about that conference!
Had I not had the upbringing I’ve had where it was modeled to enjoy life, we might have left feeling upset at that experience. Instead, we chose to see the humor in it and laugh about it.
When was the last time you had a really good belly-aching, tear-dripping laugh? Or just some plain old fun? For that matter, what is your theology of fun? Perhaps you’re thinking it’s not spiritual to have fun, or that it’s not important in a Christian’s life, so you don’t make the time. I believe God created fun and humor because He knew that we would need the soul medicine it would provide in a fallen world.
There’s something that God built into creation that is enjoyable. Imagine the fun God must have had when He created all the animals. Next time you’re at the zoo just look at all the zany creatures; there can be no doubt that we have a fun God and that there is a purpose for laughter in our lives. Since we are created in the image of God as Genesis 1:26 says, then having a sense of humor is part of how we’re wired.
If you have a hard time discovering fun, surround yourself with those people who live life joyfully. My life has been lavished with people who enjoy life. And they are contagious! Even when there has been nothing to laugh about, God has helped me to find the humor in some small thing.
Growing up, fun was a lifestyle. My mom was always doing crazy things to help us enjoy life, and I have tried to carry that gift into my adulthood. Ministry and living in today’s culture can get so heavy and laden with burdens. Fun gives us a break so we can carry on in the midst of them. Proverbs 17:22 tells us that to be able to laugh is good medicine for our beaten down souls. I believe fostering fun is about trying to celebrate life in the midst of everything we do – work, relationships, life’s circumstances, and ministry. If you look around, there is always something to laugh about or enjoy. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh.” We have the “time to weep” part down, but unfortunately not the “time to laugh.”
God’s design for fun is further demonstrated in Genesis 2:2-3 which says, “By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.” Imagine declaring a day of no work as “holy.” We don’t often see fun, play, or leisure as “holy” do we? So what is that weekly day of rest to be about? It’s a day for abstaining from work and, instead, being concerned with worshipping God and attending to proper relaxation of mind and body.
Fun is simply having a sense of humor or lightness; taking a recess from the responsibilities of life through recreation and relaxation. It’s making time for ourselves and others. Play and rest need to be given a proper place of dignity because we have been designed by God with a need to play.
How can we enjoy life when it seems like a never ending stretch of work? All work and no play makes for a very heavy existence. God fashioned us with a need for enjoyment and fun. He not only gave us a weekly day for our bodies to rest and relax, but on top of that He declared it “holy.” So give yourself permission to have some holy fun!