I’m in the middle of a pretty busy season. I’m swamped at work these days, and it’s no small feat to care for (and keep alive) a babbling, hungry, fussy 9-month-old. Then there’s a few side projects, and I also do my best to find time to run and stay in shape.
I know I’m not alone in this. Our culture moves very fast, and everyone is busy. Many of us have more on our plates than we feel like we can handle, and it can be really easy to get stressed and overwhelmed with the weight of the many responsibilities we all have to juggle.
One evening last week I took a break from my long to-do list and made a trip to Best Buy. My wife and I had just moved into a new house, and that night I finally made a purchase I had been saving up for:
Now with the help of modern science, I can turn our basement lights on and off simply by the sound of my voice (with the assistance of my trusty friend Alexa). Never again will I have the bother of operating my lights using a switch. Scoff!
We are living in a magical age, people. I’m comin’ for ya, George Jetson! The future is now!
Since I can feel many of you rolling your eyes at me right now, hear me out: I know how ridiculous and unnecessary these smart lights are. They are completely silly and probably definitely a waste of my hard-earned money. I know. But here’s the thing:
Adding a splash of fun to my days keeps me going.
When I come home after a long day of meetings and projects to a house full of stuffed animals and teething toys and a crying infant rolling on the floor, for some silly reason, it makes me smirk a little when I can vocalize a command to a light bulb. Even if only for a second, I laugh inside and think, “Man, that’s fun.”
Thanks, Steve Harvey
For me this splash of fun doesn’t happen with only expensive and unnecessary toys. When I’m at work, my team will often complete email threads almost exclusively using animated GIFs.
Me: Stephanie, how’s that design project going?
Stephanie: (Jim Halpert fist pump)
Me: (Steve Harvey clapping) Need anything from me?
Stephanie: (Batman shaking his head)
Sometimes after these exchanges, I imagine an old-school teacher from a ’90s sitcom looking over my shoulder and saying, “Now, Matt, was that really necessary? Don’t you have a long list of projects today? Why on earth would you take the time to copy and paste a silly motion picture when you could have saved seconds by simply typing a response?”
And that’s exactly why, ’90s sitcom teacher. It isn’t necessary, and that’s what makes it fun. Sending silly pictures is one way I keep myself moving forward on long and busy days, and that is worth an extra 10 seconds.
Why so serious?
I think Jesus is OK with us having a little fun. Over the centuries, I think we’ve created an image of Jesus that I’m not sure is accurate.
Maybe because of our industrialized American culture, it can feel a little irresponsible to have fun, and I think some Christians add a little extra guilt that was never intended. Jesus certainly took his mission on earth very seriously, but I think He may have had an extra joyful spark in his eye that we often don’t give him credit for. Remember:
- Jesus invited children to play with Him.
- Jesus walked on water. He healed people by spitting in mud. He used these absurd and amazing miracles to teach important lessons, but He certainly could have done so with a little less flair if He had wanted to (but where’s the fun in that?).
- Sometimes Jesus was silent among His accusers, but other times He was the master of one-liners that immediately silenced the Pharisees.
- Jesus’ first miracle on earth happened at a party where people ran out of wine.
In our daily busy lives, it can be easy to fall into stress and worry. In Matthew 6, however, Jesus offered a cure for anxiety by reminding us that birds and flowers never worry about where their food or clothes will come from. Then He gave profound advice we often repeat today: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.”
Similarly, the Old Testament leader Nehemiah told his people not to mourn or weep or worry but instead to:
Celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared.… Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!
On long, difficult days, I know what it feels like to be lacking strength. It’s tempting to power through and stay up a little later to check off a few more tasks, but you know what that does?
That way of living invites us to live by our own strength. In my experience, that doesn’t work so well.
What did Nehemiah say was our strength?
The Lord’s joy.
Take a breather.
Now, I’m not saying robot-powered light bulbs are “the joy of the Lord.” However, the Bible is full of stories of people who joyfully experienced the Lord’s favor. Jesus came to offer us a full and good life, and I think He’s OK with goofy texts and emails.
If you find yourself (like I do) trying to hustle through life on your own strength, take a breather and reflect on things that bring you joy. Ask Alexa to tell you a joke. Watch a silly YouTube video. Take time to thank God for the blessings in your life — as big or little, serious or silly as they may be. Like Nehemiah’s followers, it’s OK to enjoy the rich foods and sweet drinks every now and then.
Jesus came to offer eternal life and to help us carry our burdens. If you, too, are in a busy season, spend some time with Jesus. Imagine that twinkle in His eye as you recall some of those fun Bible stories. Take a break to play and experience joy in the life God has given you, and you just might find renewed strength.