It Is Time to Play

May 23, 2022

It has been a few decades since my glory days as a coach for all my kid’s teams. I had just decided not to coach baseball, and felt great relief, for I needed the break from coaching. The boys had decided not to play baseball, which meant our summer would be free from the hectic sports schedule we had just spent nine months enduring. We had a family meeting and all agreed we wanted to slow down. We chose to go to the beach and play. We got a family membership to the summer pool and made sure we went regularly to play. We scheduled lots of evenings to get out games and play. Are you picking up a theme here? We had such a great summer we made that our model throughout the rest of my days raising kids.

The Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer for many folks. Have you ever started such a summer with hopes of a slower lifestyle, time with the family, and more time to play? Then what happens? It is too easy to fill the summer with huge, time-consuming projects that allow very little time to relax and play. Do you even know how to play? Do you feel like you have to make excuses when you want to play? What do you like to do most when you used to play?

I strongly encourage people – especially families with children – to take time before summer arrives and decide what chores can be accomplished, what trips can be taken, etc. without turning the summer into a daily version of the Indianapolis 500. There will always be more to do than we can possibly do. It has never been more important for people to learn to say, “No,” to attractive offers that challenge and entertain us. To enjoy life in our times we have to learn to recognize not only when life is moving too fast, but also how we can make changes to slow down and enjoy our most precious blessings of faith, family, friends, and health.

The famous words from Ecclesiastes 3:1 seem very appropriate for Christians in the modern age. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Our challenge is to know when is the right time for each matter. I pray that with a little self-control, and some help from God, this summer will be a time of relaxing and enjoying the family.

A pastor friend of mine was sharing how circumstances had lined up so that none of his three children had any teams or sports they were doing all summer. They have already had more good family events, cookouts, and inviting friends over for game night than they had had all school year. A neighbor approached him and commented on how relaxed my friend seemed. The neighbor then added, “I wish I could do that. I can’t remember the last weekend my wife wasn’t taking one kid in one direction and I was heading in another direction with the other kid for some sport. It just gets exhausting!”

I once asked a parishioner why he put all his kids in every soccer program he could find, especially the very expensive traveling teams, which incidentally, all played on Sundays. He declared that it was an investment in his children’s future. They were all going to get scholarships to college. Not one of his kids played soccer in their senior year of high school, much less in college. They did struggle with drugs and alcohol and the parents eventually got divorced. I have seen this sad scene repeated often.

Oddly, the one thing that people often feel they must cut out of their busy summer schedules is worship attendance. If our goal is to recuperate from the hectic pace of the school year, then we must take a holistic approach, which includes spiritual nourishment. It just doesn’t make sense to deny ourselves regular opportunities to give God the glory through worship. Whether at home or on the road, take time to find a church to attend on weekends. I believe it is true that a family that prays together stays together, and the church helps families do that.

I also encourage each family to read at least one religious book or novel this summer. You can’t go wrong with anything written by C.S. Lewis. The whole family will enjoy the seven books in the series, “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

I intend to enjoy my summer with great adventures, cookouts with friends, time around the pool relaxing, and time to be still and know who God is again (Psalm 46:10-11). May God bless you in your summer planning and adventures.