Ever since I started working with the Ems, I’ve often thought of what my walk-out song would be. Walk-out songs are small snippets of songs for when players go out to bat, so basically you have to pick a cool part of the song – not a boring part of the intro. You see on one hand I’d want my song to be something intimidating to the other team, something that would let them know they should back up a couple steps, something that’d make them say, “He’s a hitter,” something from Eminem. But on the other hand – the hand that is more in tune with what my heart’s telling me – I want John Mark McMillan’s “I Dreamed There Was a Fountain.”
Last night after the Em’s game was the Fellowship Night. I’ve been to one of these before, but that was way back when I had just finished my freshman year at UO and games were still being played at Civic Stadium – an old ballpark here in Eugene. My ticket was like six bucks or something. Last night, however, I was working while Fellowship Night was happening. And as I swept away the old clay around home plate and packed in some new dirt, I couldn’t help but listen in to Eric, Maddie, Michael, and Casey all share tidbits about their faith and journey with the Lord.
Eric Dungy, Maddie Magee, Michael Miller, and Casey Martin have all been in unique opportunities to play a sport at the collegiate level or higher. Eric, son of Tony Dungy, plays football for Oregon; Maddie plays volleyball for Oregon; Michael plays for the Emeralds; and Casey is the men’s golf coach for Oregon. While each one had something encouraging, thought-provoking, or wise to say, Casey said something toward the very end that has really stuck with me.
When asked about what he does now since he’s no longer competing professionally, he replied saying that he still plays a lot. He said that he often teases his players, which means he has to back up his words by playing better than them. Why he does this, though, is to have fun. He said he likes to have fun with the opportunities and gifts that God has given him. All I could think of was 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
When we think of doing things to the glory of God, we often think of working harder, being more responsible, and finding ways to avoid sinning. Yet how often do we think of having fun? Jesus says that if we don’t “become like children,” we’ll be missing out on His kingdom (Matt. 18:3). And what do children do? They have fun.
On Saturday, I gathered with a couple dozen other people to send off two good friends; Jesse and Candice Coffee. They’re leaving Eugene (and the US) to teach English over in South Korea. They were a part of Calvary Fellowship all the way to the end and they were there at the beginning of Emmaus Life – so I’ve had the privilege of getting to enjoy life with them. But it is precisely that – joy – which I learned a lot more about from them. What I mean is, I learned how to have fun.
Sure, I’ve known how to have fun – anyone who has ever been a kid knows how to have fun. But what adulthood oftentimes does is dull down the fun with mortgages and car payments and jobs and this overarching thing called “responsibility.” It’s not long before you come across a five year-old imagining himself an airplane pilot calling out to you, his wingman, and you don’t know what to do because, as we often hear, “life happens.” We justify our lack of fun-having by hiding behind our responsibilities. Jesus never says responsibilities aren’t important; but He certainly doesn’t say they’re the only thing, either.
Life is starting to get crazy for me; I just bought a new car, I’m packing up to move to Portland, and I’m about to begin a Master’s program at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Along with all of these things are a ton of responsibilities – usually dealing with finances – and I imagine they’ll feel overwhelming. Yet what I am guarding myself against is being so caught up with all these things I need to take care of that I’m not actually enjoying any of them. As Candice Coffee has often said, God wants to give us the desires of our hearts and then enjoy those things. But how can you enjoy something that you’ve simply made into another item on the to-do list?
Today is Monday – a day full of unforeseen contingencies usually in the work place, involving coffee spills, and “fun” is usually not the common F word of the day. But how much easier would it be to focus on enjoying the job, class, sport, or whatever that you’ve been given instead of the to-do list with all its responsibilities? No, they’re still important. But are they so important that you’d rather spend your time stressing over every little responsibility that doesn’t get done or isn’t done the right way instead of having fun with what you do?
There’s a Facebook meme with the caption: “It doesn’t matter how old you are, when a kid hands you a toy phone, you answer it.” Having fun with what we do – making ourselves like children – is enabling ourselves to answer that phone and enjoy our adult lives as little kids who just escaped with their parents’ secret stash of Oreos.
Get done what you need to get done, but have fun with it. After all, you only get to do it on this day, in this season, in this life. Our next life with Jesus is going to have all sorts of new things to enjoy, which we’ll only be able to do if we figure out how to enjoy what we’re doing now.
Believe it or not, having fun is glorifying God. So be ready to answer that toy phone.