By Pastor Royston Smith
Are you someone who thinks that only children and animals benefit from playing? Think again. Whatever your age, larking around has been shown to boost happiness and mental wellbeing. Author, Ellen G. White encourages us to be playful. She writes, “No child of God need have a sad or mournful experience. Divine commands, divine promises, show that this is so. Wisdom’s way “are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Zechariah 8:5(ESV) talks about playfulness among children, “And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.” Adults often see play as a part of growing up and not something we do as we get older. Many educators and psychologists refer to it as the universal language of childhood. Can adults benefit from play? Do you have enough play in your life?
Reflect on the calm, magnificent sunsets. What about the beautiful sunrises and stunning scenery? What about the lanky long necked giraffe? How about the diverse varieties of beautiful butterflies? What is the purpose of a peacock’s plume if not beauty? Why would God give people a sense of humour, without the ability to be playful? Agreeing, Exodus 32:6 encourages, “And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” Although some people may appear more playful than others, researchers say that we are all wired to play. I can only conclude that God wants us to enjoy his creation, to play in it, to laugh. Play contributes to our well-being by reducing our stress levels. Play helps us to re-live our fondest childhood memories. The experience of play is more important than the end result.
Playful people have fun and tend to be happier and cheerier. Playfulness enables us to be more pleasant. It helps us to be more compassionate and indulgent of others. Being playful prevents us taking life too seriously. It helps us to laugh at our fragility and mishaps. Purposeful play, enhances our social and educational development, including problem solving skills. The prophet Jeremiah said, “I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.” (Jeremiah 32:41)
Some people miss all the good things in life by focusing only on their disappointments. One can infer that God has a playful heart. Wouldn’t it be strange to see Jesus talking with children without a playful and humorous attitude? …’ he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing’ (Zephaniah 3:17). Surely Jesus had some recreational pursuit. He spent quality time with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. I wonder about the love shared and the quality of their conversations during these times. Surely, they must have laughed together and maybe even played a favourite game or two.
Play is just as critical for adults as it is for children. Play brings delight. Play cultivates creativity. Play develops relationships. God wants us to play. Play is something that you do for the sheer love of the activity; playing a game, recreational walking, collecting stamps, kicking a football, reading the Bible, enjoying a book or climbing a mountain. Isaiah 40: 31, “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” In this time of lockdown let us spend some time playing with our families. Turn off the phone. Switch off the television. Put the tablet away. Revert to your favourite childhood pastime. Whenever you think playing is a waste of time, remember it is beneficial to everyone. Let’s play.