A realtor friend related a time when the events and worries in his business were mounting until he felt he was reaching the breaking point. Staff members were quitting, customers were backing out of deals, and mortgage lenders were tightening credit so that buyers couldn't obtain financing. In the immortal words of Chicken Little, "The sky [was] falling."
In a state of panic, frustration, and desperation, my friend contacted his senior business partner and unburdened himself. After listening to the tale, his partner said simply, "Remember, it's supposed to be fun." Whether this was said tongue-in-cheek or was a gentle suggestion to view life and its problems differently, the words stayed with my friend for the rest of his career.
Work is supposed to be fun. Life is supposed to fun. You are to have fun in whatever activity you are engaged in. This sounds like heresy, especially in a country with some of the longest working hours in the world and families with two breadwinners who put in extra hours just to retain employment.
Consider the opposite of work not as rest but play. Consider further the Biblical wisdom from Proverbs and its revolutionary view that you are a divine delight, the creator's playmate, rejoicing from the first morning of time in a timeless universe: "Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him" (Prov. 8:30). Or, as another translation says, "Playing always before Him."
The Master teacher, Jesus, explored the infinite dimensions of joy. For him joy was present, abundant, complete, and full to overflowing, not partial, occasional, or fleeting (see John 16:24).
A few years ago, I might have thought such a notion not only foreign and revolutionary but also unrealistic and unobtainable, especially in my work as an attorney. But I have come to know the existence and sustaining ever-presence of the God of exceeding joy. It has healed me of grief when others close to me have died.
One morning found my wife and me at the deathbed of someone very close to us. I dragged through day, world-weary, heavy-laden, lowly in heart, trying to make sense of death, which makes no sense. I longed for joy anything that would lift my spirits. I arrived home after dark that crystal winter night. For the first time in my life I saw red rays from the aurora borealis falling like the end of an endless rainbow on our century-old barn.
The sight was so extraordinary, so beautiful, so captivating, so humbling-holy, I was drawn to the majesty, glory, the magnificence of the divine creation. Burden and loss were lifted without conscious effort or thought and were replaced by the stillness of infinity, a glimpse of the divine oneness, the peace that "passeth all understanding" (see Phil. 4:7).
Jesus invited all who "labour and are heavy laden" to "learn" from him, and receive rest (see Matt. 11:28-29). That invitation sounds less appealing and more burdensome when he adds, "Take my yoke upon you." Anyone who has seen an ox yoke would decline the honor. Whenever I look at the 75-pound ox yoke hanging on the wall in our farmhouse, I wonder who would voluntarily place such a device around their neck.
But I've not found this process burdensome. The divine yoke or the way of the divine oneness presents no physical or mental burden. To partake "of the divine nature" (see II Pet. 1:4) is to acknowledge the yoking or union of the creator with divine creation. Our nature is the reflection or mirror of the one grand, divine perfection.
In her seminal work, "Science and Heath with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy made a statement that has helped me in this regard. She wrote: "The only guarantee of obedience is a right apprehension of Him whom to know aright is Life eternal" (pg. vii). Many of us bristle at the word "obedience." It sounds confining or suggests a burden, but it doesn't have to be and is not so, in fact. Rather, the key phrase and beginning point is "a right apprehension." Once this is gained, obedience is not only effortless but unavoidable and inevitable.
I pray that we will all come to know ourselves and one another as God's daily delight, playing always before Him and the fullness of divine joy. And when on the journey we can remember, "It's supposed to be fun."