The Playfulness of God

January 23, 2012 | 28 comments

Playful living comes ridiculously easy when you look like this:

It’s a cinch to laugh deep in moments like these: When you’re tripping over your flippered feet, and the snorkel masks transform your family into underwater bug-eyed invaders, and you each have a single antenna growing out of your head. It’s impossible to miss the playfulness of the world when you’re face-planted in the ocean, eyes wide to the wonder hidden below.

These are the moments when you realize that deeper intimacy with God
is right below the surface,
just around the corner,
and somewhere on the the other side of a to-do list.

Sure, we can imagine God as Comforter or Savior, as Healer or Protector. Perhaps we can even imagine crawling up on the Father’s lap, where He’ll wrap His strong arms around our weary spirits. But can we imagine God as playmate?  Can we imagine Him as the Father who tosses His child with joy into the air?

Yes, we can play with the Prince of Peace.  We can laugh with the Lion of Judah. We can explore the playfulness of God, even in the mundane days, long after the snorkels are packed away.

Deeper intimacy is found with the Father right here, on the playground of his creative world.

Marilyn Meberg wrote this week: “Pain is not God’s fault, but he created a solution anyway.” The solution, she says, is laughter.

Mark Roberts, in his Sunday devotion, wrote: “Work stands at the center of our purpose for living. But, God also created play.”

Maybe this is why children were always trying to get nearer to Jesus. God is not boring. 

Our world is a vast and magical playground of jumping dolphins, spray-blowing whales, frolicking baby deer. And just the other day, the neighbor’s pot-bellied pig, with his wrinkled nose, was peeking through my front window.

The Bible says to have a child-like faith. I’m only beginning to scratch the depths of what that might mean for me.

 ||

Each week, my friend Laura Boggess hosts “Playdates with God” at her blog. She opens our eyes to a God of joy, of delight … and of playfulness. I join her on the journey this week.

by | January 23, 2012 | 28 comments

28 Comments

  1. Nancy

    Loved Mark Roberts’ piece and am glad that you continued the conversation here. BTW, Ethel’s daughter may be continuing your daughters’ art project idea with some of the women in our church next Sunday 🙂

    Let the play continue!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yes, the Roberts’ piece was fantastic.

      Smiling here, as I read about the contagious nature of God-focused art. If, by chance, they do something more with it, I’d love to hear/see it, to share on my Getting Down With Jesus Facebook page.

      Thank you for stopping by, Nancy … and for sharing your playful spirit. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Lindy

    God was so creative how could God not want to play with us and enjoy being with us?

    This kind of reminded me of a passage I read in “The Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting”. It said that we pray “Thy Will Be Done” thinking only bad things when really God wants only good thing and Thy Will might just be something wonderful or “playful”!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh, Lindy … I have been guilty of thinking mostly “bad things” when I pray that. Why do we do that? That does not align with the truth.

      Reply
  3. laura

    Thank you for pointing me to Mark’s piece, Jennifer. I always love his insights. And I love yours here. I think you are right…it’s in the way we see it. Opening our minds to the possibility that each moment might have a surprise in it–just as a child does–this is what Playdates is about. I think you do a pretty good job of that 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Laura,

      Bless your heart for coming by, and for your words. You know, your playdates have really opened up my eyes to what it means to have a more childlike heart about my relationship with the Father. I’m also so stinkin’ serious with Him! Like if I go all exegetical on Him, He’ll be impressed. 🙂

      Reply
  4. S. Etole

    What a varied and delightful playground He has provided for us.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Susan …

      And you are among the very best at seeing the beauty on the playground.

      Reply
  5. Sheila Lagrand

    Childlike. It’s hard, sometimes, to know in our bones that going back there is good. It’s hard to see the way.

    But it’s so worthwhile (I hope, as I struggle in that general direction).

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hard for me too, Sheila. When I write these things, it’s as much for my benefit as for anyone’s. I have to self-preach these things pretty regularly. 🙂

      Reply
  6. kd sullivan

    I wanna play! Pick me! Pick me! (And He does everytime!)

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      All right, girl! Let’s do this thing. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Cindy

    How could we worship a God who doesn’t laugh and give us joy? I want to look deep into those eyes and feel it.:-) The older I get, the more I seek out laughter! Thank you.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Amen, Cindy! And you’ve got a beautiful smile. I’d love to hear the laugh that goes with it. (Been thinking about you…)

      Reply
  8. Dolly

    Oh, the joy and gift of play…walking/ falling forward with flippers makes me glad that I don’t normally wear them (smiles)…grateful for a playful God and for you 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yes Dolly … It was definitely a falling-forward thing. And then the snorkel dude reminded us that we need to wait until we get INTO the water before we put them on.

      Brilliant. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Shelly Miller

    I have to admit that this is a challenge for me. Seeing God as playmate. I grew up having to be an adult, childhood pushed aside and that has become a learned behaviour,not a natural one. You always inspire me to think. And I just have to say that I am glad you couldn’t see my sad, crying face when I read your hug through FB. You just have no idea how that touched me!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Shelly,

      It’s hard for me, too — and I was a child with a “regular” childhood.

      Sending you continued prayers tonight, my friend. And hugs, of course. Always hugs. xo

      Reply
  10. Sharon O

    we have to let go, relax and allow ourselves to have a play date. wow…

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Sharon! Thanks for stopping by. So … have you been on a playdate with God lately? I’d love to hear about it! 🙂

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      And God IN YOU is knock-your-socks-off fun! 🙂

      Reply
  11. Christine

    Such insight and so beautifully put! I’m another one this is a challenge for, but my word this year is laughter, so I’m trying.

    Reply
  12. Jennifer@Adam's Rib

    It’s hard many times to grasp being childlike when there are so many adult tasks to fill a day.

    Reply
  13. Kimberlee Conway Ireton

    Jennifer, Thanks for this reminder that God isn’t boring, that Jesus delights in us, and that playing is perhaps as important as praying, maybe is a form of praying. Good stuff here, beautifully written.

    Reply
  14. Denise J. Hughes

    “These are the moments when you realize that deeper intimacy with God
    is right below the surface,
    just around the corner,
    and somewhere on the the other side of a to-do list.”

    I think you are right. So often we miss the “fun side” of God for the “serious side” of Him. But He made us for the joy of companionship. He enjoyed watching Adam name the animals. He derives pleasure from ours.

    Beautiful post.

    (And very well-written too.)

    Reply
  15. Charity Singleton

    Jennifer – I love this. I just linked to a Qideas post over on THC Facebook page about a theology of play. Why are we always so serious when we worship and pray? I need to learn to have this playfulness too.

    Reply
  16. Nick 25

    This may sound corny, but I feel that the universal language between God and all His creatures is play, a thought that was secularly discussed in the fictional novel The Legend of Bagger Vance. I have a bichon frise who loves to play games like fetch and keep away. I’ll throw her toy onto the lazy boy chair and she’ll use cunning to get me away from the chair – she’ll stare at something else, feign interest, get me to chase her and then turn right around, dive on the chair and get the toy. This sense of play and cunning between two sentient beings makes me feel the closest to God I’ve ever felt…

    Reply

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