I’ve always struggled with having fun.

Not that I don’t want to have fun, mind you; I struggle with the concept of having fun. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure I feel when I’m supposed to be having fun: Will I feel satisfied when this is over, or will I feel loss? If I feel loss, even though it was fun in the moment, the moment is over so quickly and the loss lingers.

I remember as a kid struggling with having fun–like the time the “tickling, wrestling, laughing, squealing-match” became a “tear-fest” when the fun became overwhelming. And even as recently as 2 years ago, I described my life to some friends as, “That kid you see walking around Disneyland holding on to his dad’s hand just crying away as he tromps around from ride to ride.” Not fun.

And it’s easy when life is hard, to mistake “escape” for “fun.” I have no problem escaping–T.V., books, internet car sites, D.I Y. projects around the house–but escape tends to leave me feeling flat, not invigorated. Fun should feel invigorating!

So last week, two days after knee surgery (still feeling the depressing effects of anesthesia), I announced to Jayne with a high degree of certainty that life would never be fun again. I was always going to be in pain and that was that. My very pragmatic wife looked at me and said, “Ok, it’s time to think about what we’re going to do for fun!”

So I started thinking about those times in the past that were really fun, things like:

  • Driving down country roads in France, stopping in towns along the way,
  • Hiking through Plitvice Nat. Park in Croatia, stopping to see waterfall after waterfall,
  • Stacking the load of firewood for the winter with our kids, and then going out for ice-cream all together,
  • Watching Spiderman in 3D at the IMAX theater,
  • Climbing around an old mountain fortress in Bosnia,
  • Putting on weekend Marriage Conferences with dear friends and colleagues,
  • Getting to see my grandkids delight in my wife, and she in them.

Maybe you can relate to some of them? Some took a lot of planning; some just happened “spur-of-the-moment.” Some were with a lot of other people; some were with just one or two others. Some required an investment of time and money, others were free. None of them left me feeling frivolous and empty; all of them left me with a sense of contentment.

As I look back over my list, I see something else they all had in common–I see something of the image of God in each of them. I see His beauty, His creativity, His work, His protection, His permanence, His delight, and the unity of His Spirit. And I realize that I need to stop and recognize Him in the fun moments more often, not letting my own expectations of the moment overwhelm the THING, but instead, allow God to reveal Himself to me through the THING.

ACTION: Take a moment to think of a few things that you’ve done lately that have been really fun. Can you recognize God’s image or character in that THING? How would the fun change for you if you were to stop in the moment of THING and recognize God in the moment?

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