All Work and No Play…

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile," Jesus said. He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.

Mark 6:30

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately,” I confessed to my husband Brad over dinner recently. “I’ve got writer’s block or something. I feel like I’ve got nothing to say.”

For several weeks, I’d been scurrying to meet deadlines and balancing multiple writing projects. The words had been flowing, until, one day, they suddenly stopped.

“Well,” Brad said, laying down his fork, “what’s been going on? Have you done anything fun lately?”

Fun? How was there time for fun when my agent was waiting for the next draft of my book proposal? How was there time for fun when my newspaper column was due yesterday?

But Brad was right. I realized I hadn’t left the house in a week, aside from delivering and retrieving my two children from school. In the past two weeks I’d declined two invitations to have lunch with friends and cancelled a date night with my husband. I hadn’t talked to my sister or my best friend in more than fourteen days, my running shoes were collecting dust in the corner of my bedroom, and the novel I’d borrowed from the library sat untouched on my nightstand.

No wonder my creativity had dried up like a desert streambed. So focused was I on the demands of work, I’d stripped my life of all extraneous activities, including play.

Jesus understood that everyone—even those who don’t hold obviously creative jobs—needs to step away from the demands of work to rejuvenate. For example, when the disciples returned from a grueling ministry tour and reported to Jesus all they had accomplished, he urged them to take a break. “ ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile’, ” he suggested. “He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat” (Mark 6:30-31).

They’d been working so relentlessly, Jesus and his disciples hadn’t even taken the time for a proper meal. Anyone who’s scarfed down a ham and cheese sandwich at her office desk or pulled through the drive-through en route to a meeting across town can relate to that.

With this in mind, and in spite of my looming deadlines, I met a friend for coffee this morning. As we wrapped our hands around warm mugs and bent close over the tiny table, we shared a little about our stresses and laughed a lot. It was only an hour, but when I returned to my desk I felt ready to work again. I placed my fingers on the keyboard, and the words came.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you tend to step up production when you’re feeling overworked or up against a tight deadline? What are some small ways you can introduce play and rest into your busy schedule, even when you have a lot going on?

PRAYER: Lord, I know you didn’t intend for me to live a life dictated by my work. Help me recognize the ways I can find small moments of joy, rest, and play in my hectic life so that I can return to my work refreshed. Amen.

The Work of Play

Play is not just for kids. If you are under pressure in your work, a spirit of play can lead to balance, creativity, and good health. In our hyper-productive world, we need to learn how to play again—at home, on the job, and even in worship. This article is part of our series The Work of Play. If someone you know needs to rediscover the joy of play, invite them to the conversation on The High Calling.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Family Camp, one of our sister programs in The H. E. Butt Family Foundation.