Once upon a time many, many years ago, there was a little girl who picked up a white ball with black spots and started playing with it. She decided to try making a game where you couldn’t use your hands. So she started kicking it around and soon other kids started playing. Quickly a game was created and this young lady named the game soccer.
Soon soccer games started popping up everywhere. To help soccer spread as far and wide as possible, the young lady wrote down how to play soccer in a book called “How to Play Soccer.” With the rules of soccer written down, soon the young lady was forgotten, but soccer became an international phenomenon. Everyone was playing!
“How to Play Soccer” was also an international success. Copies of the book were being sold as fast as they could be printed. Everyone who loved soccer was given a copy. As generations passed, parents would pass their copies down to their children. It became uncommon for someone not to have a copy sitting around in a drawer or a closet.
But as generations passed, people read the book less and less. And a few hundred years after the publication of the book, small changes started taking place. First, people decided that hands were okay to use. Years passed. A group of people decided that goals were unnecessary, so they were removed and the practice spread. Soon the game had evolved into people passing the ball back and forth, declaring they had scored whenever they felt like it.
Interest in the game waned. People played it because their parents did or because their parents expected them too. Some people played out a sense of preserving their cultural heritage, but the passion for the game was largely absent. Duty had replaced the love of the game.
Then, one day, something happened that changed everything. Two young boys were going on a cruise and their parents had given them a copy of “How To Play Soccer” and a soccer ball. A freak accident happened on the ship and these two boys with their book and ball ended up on a life raft that landed on a deserted island.
Obviously, survival was a primary concern for awhile, but after figuring out how to survive, they were left with little to do. The boys eventually got around to reading the book their parents had given them. Having never really played the game, they read the instructions with a fresh set of eyes. No one was around to tell them that soccer isn’t played like the book stated. And so they played. They fashioned makeshift goals and started, kicking competing against each other. They would spend weeks learning to play against each other.
Then, a miracle happened and the boys were discovered by a passing ship. They were brought back to their home city and reunited with their family. Something strange happened, though, when they returned. They played a different game than everyone else, the one they had learned from reading the book “How To Play Soccer.”
Because they had read the book and did what it said, at first they were ridiculed for playing such a strange game. Others questioned whether it was helpful or relevant to play the game like it was described in the book. But the curious and those who would have never touched soccer before suddenly began to see the fun and the joy of the game. And soon the joy of playing soccer began to spread again, replacing the formalism and tradition of the game it had become.
Soccer became fun again. It was played the way it was always intended thanks to two young boys who had the audacity to believe the book and put it into practice.
Let the reader understand….
A year ago someone came up to me and shared with me that they felt the Lord loved it when I sing to Him.
This wasn’t terribly surprising because one of the ways I consistently have met the Lord in my past is through song. I’m not a terribly good singer. I can’t plan an instrument. I just meet the Lord when I sing from my heart.
So as this year came to a close, it was with a little bit of regret that I realized I hadn’t done more singing to Jesus in my time alone with Him. I even started joking with the kids about how I was going to pick up playing a ukulele. Did I mention I didn’t own a ukulele?
So it was funny to me at Christmas that my wife “just so happened” to get me a ukulele for Christmas. Maybe it’s time I start singing again.
I think one of the things if we move out of showy Christianity into any of the more missional and house church elements of our faith is a temptation to believe that our songs are a show meant to draw others to a meeting. Really our songs are meant to draw us to God.
Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
There is a place where we are so filled with the Spirit that we overcome our inhibitions about how we look and what people think of us and we sing. It is to the Lord (not to men) and it happens in the arena of our hearts.
This next year, I want to find that place again. I hope you’ll join me.
This blog has gone through its fair stages of evolution. It’s currently in the midst of another one (see my post about daily blogging here).
One of those stages that I went through early on was a wrestling match over whether this blog should be about me and my life or about various thoughts/teachings/messages I felt like were important to share. I would spend whole posts agonizing about whether this blog should be about me or the ministry I felt like I was called to.
These days, with the advent of Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Snapwhatever, that sturggle has been so much easier. This blog has largely taken on the role of me teaching about where the Lord has brought us or processing something He’s been speaking.
In an effort to let you know that Travis isn’t all work and there is some fun and games that go on from time to time, I thought I’d give you a glimpse into something our family did for the Christmas season last year and invite you to join us as we try it again this year.
About this time last year, on a whim, I grabbed a Transformer that was laying on the floor and sat it on a shelf. Then, because it was sitting looking kind of depressed, I snapped a photo of it and told the kids it was “Transformer on the Shelf.” It was kind of a riff on “Elf on the Shelf,” a goofy tradition I always thought was a little creepy. I posted the picture to Facebook as well. It took off in ways I don’t think my wife or I could have expected and the kids had a ton of fun. You can see last year’s photo archive here.
So we’re trying it again this year, but instead of Transformer on the Shelf, we’re doing “Turtles on the Shelf.” If you’re curious, you can follow along every morning here.
(P.S. This blog won’t be consumed by Turtles on the Shelf for all of December. I just thought you might want to know that following Jesus can be fun sometimes, too.)