“God wrote the whole Bible without once using the word fun.”
The old preacher never tired of reminding his congregation of the fact. I was just a young man, newly married, and I didn’t think much of the idea. Back then, anyway.
No fun? None?
It wasn’t that the old fellow didn’t like to laugh. It wasn’t even that he didn’t enjoy spending time at a game of skill or two with friends. He just couldn’t find the word in the pages of the Book, so he decided it wasn’t something promised to followers of God.
I’m beginning to think he wasn’t far wrong.
That said, there is more to speak of on the subject. I hope you’ll stick with me here.
If you expect the conclusion of my little essay to be that we all should keep our noses to our grindstones, and wipe those smiles off our faces, you’ll be disappointed.
The pursed lips of the Church Lady—she of Saturday Night Live fame—are nowhere to be found in the words ordained by the Author of the Book we follow.
You see, laughing and dancing, joy and enjoyment, hugs and smiles are all included in the master plan for those of us who aren’t promised fun.
It would seem that, perhaps the problem lies in our definition of fun and not in the acts of enjoyment in the life with which we’ve been blessed.
His mom’s car pulled into the parking spot right next to the music store’s front door one day last week. I recognized the lady immediately—her face, once smiling and friendly, now distressed and cheerless. It took the man longer than usual to make it through the front door. When he did arrive, he was leaning on a cane.
A few years younger than I, the man has been a customer of mine for the last thirty years. I have never known him to hold a job. Until just recently, he was completely able-bodied, but just had better things to do than find employment.
He has fun.
In fact, on that day last week, he needed to find some supplies to get his guitar into shape so he could play at a party. No. Not to earn money, just to have fun. Copious amounts of beer, wine, and hard liquor will be available there. A fair number of the attendees at the party will leave inebriated. He may be one of them.
As the man made his slow, painful way to the cash register, he waved a couple of twenties in the air. Declaring that his mom had come through once again, he paid for his purchases with her hard-earned money and, struggling with the front door, departed to have fun at the party.
We might have different understandings of the meaning of that word. The old preacher liked to speak of joy, the joy that came from God Himself. It is an appropriate beginning. But, I think there is more.
Celebration, for instance. At relevant occasions, celebration is the activity in which we should participate. Births, life passages of import, successes in our endeavors, holidays—all these and more result in celebration, the culmination of hard work and partnerships. (Deuteronomy 12:7)
Indeed, we are told to enjoy the fruit of our labor. Food and drink is ours to enjoy. The wise person understands the limitations to such things, though. Many years ago, one wise man suggested that we not become one of those folks who drinks too much wine, nor who is a glutton. (Proverbs 23:20)
Mirth and laughter are also ours to delight in. A merry heart is as good as medicine for our bodies. Yes—words from that same wise man. (Proverbs 17:22)
So, tell those jokes (the appropriate ones).
Plan that birthday party.
Enjoy sitting at the table with family and friends.
Sing. Dance. Shout.
They all belong to us. All of them.
There is just one little thing. We earn them by our faithfulness to keep promises. We earn our food with our labor. Our marriages are kept strong as we work at them, loving our spouses and serving them.
The joy, celebration, food and drink, laughter, and music are the icing on the cake. They are the magnificent blessing of a loving Father who rejoices in our rejoicing.
My old friend? He counts his celebrations by the memories of “being wasted” and his sexual conquests. Someone else earned his ticket to those parties. He can’t even pay for the party favors himself.
Jaded and burned out, he knows nothing else but fun. And, it’s not even fun anymore, just another dark place in which he looks as he searches for fulfillment. In between the occasional rush of emotion, he lives in pain and unhappiness, always searching for more fun.
The old preacher wasn’t wrong.
I like his definition better.
Every day, I like it better.
There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in the world that is not intended to make us rejoice.
(John Calvin ~ French Theologian ~ 1509-1564)
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.
(Ecclesiastes 2:24 ~ ESV)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.