Kids all over the world, in every situation of life, have a longing to PLAY! In an earlier blog that is posted in the navigation of Perspectives, I wrote on the the Language of Play. It is true, I have seen it. Every four years PI designs a Family Camp where we invite leaders from the 20 different nations in which we partner to join us for a week of encouragement, refreshing, relationship building and corporate worship of God. They bring their children. Obviously, the children are speaking different languages and it sounds like waves of indistinguishable sounds, but they all speak the language of play. They soon cross all barriers of nationality, skin color, language, size, background; it all disappears as they play!
Before Josiah was born, Randy was reading Proverbs and praying about foundation for our parenting. God gave him this phrase, “If you will enter into their world, they will readily enter into yours.” Their world is PLAY. Most people do not realize this but Randy is naturally an introvert. He loves people, but loves and recharges by being alone. He is also very intense, focused and driven; a bit more serious minded, so how was he going to enter into the world of our kids – the world of PLAY. We prayed. We came up with a plan. Before Randy would come home the kids and I would pick up the house, so there was peace and order. When Randy arrived he would greet us all, but he got 30 minutes of breathing time before the evening shifted! After that 30 minutes, he would play with the kids. It didn’t matter if he had been coaching or pastoring from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., he played.
As you know, all our kids were saved at the age of three. This was not planned by us, but it was planned by God. However, I heard Randy sharing his heart several times on the matter of his playing with the kids. He explained that he believed that God had shown him as a father he was to play with the kids, to capture their hearts so that at the right time he could easily release their hearts to the Perfect Father! I believe that held true in our family. Each of our kids understands a father/child relationship, not that Randy was perfect but he has always been consistent and honest. I believe this instituted in our children an easy trust in their Heavenly Father. Randy paved the way for their relationship with God by playing with the kids. Playing is in direct opposition to a religious spirit. Religion always tames passion and always squashes play and laughter. God desires a relationship. Even as young parents, Randy and I realized that ‘being a good person’ wasn’t going to cut it in today’s world. You require a passionate, growing relationship with God. A child can have relationship with God, but religion will strangle the spiritual life of a child and eventually drive him away, producing one of two people: 1. a good person with no Kingdom inclination or 2. a bitter against God and the church, wounded, frustrated person.
I saw God using this serious minded man, my husband, to speak love to his children by playing with them. When Randy was spending time with either Josiah or Bethany it was a bit more natural for him. Their world of play revolved around sports. From the time they could sit, each were throwing a ball with great accuracy. BUT Hannah liked sparkly shoes and barbies. My heart would smile the biggest when I would observe Randy laying on the floor with a GI Joe (he was allowed to at least have a manly doll) and carrying on a conversation with Barbie (Hannah’s doll, who was usually clothed in her princess dresses). It was a stretch for Randy, but he purposed to do it and he did! He did it out of love and He did it because He wanted our kids to serve and see God clearly. He saw past the Barbies and the GI Joes into the future of Hannah walking easily with God.
God used this un-natural experience to bring out the creativity of Randy. One time he created a game called ‘Rotate’. Each child would either be at his head, his hands or his foot. He would say, “Go!” At that point they would begin rubbing his head, hand or foot. When he yelled, “Rotate!” they would rotate to the next position and begin again. Whoever got there the quickest was the winner! Always competition! This went on for a good 30 minutes. About the 2nd or 3rd round, Josiah caught on and stated that he wanted to be in the middle! Randy decided to end that game!
Playing is such a part of every child’s world that I am convinced that it is important to God. Even children who do not get to play due to oppressive circumstances, if given half a chance, will play. God states in Matt. 18:3 that we have to become as a little child to enter the Kingdom of God. Have you ever really watched children? They will play with anyone that will play with them, play overrides any prejudices. They don’t have to have expensive toys, they can play with a rock, a blade of grass, a box. A towel tied around their neck is a catalyst that transforms them into a super hero! They are not ‘pretending’ to play, they are not ‘pretending’ to be super heroes. They are doing life. They are super heroes. Play takes over their mind and they become what they think. Play in the world of children can morph a horrible situation into a smile. The Kingdom is like children playing. Everyone is welcome, they just have to join in, be a participant. Title, prestige, possessions or the lack of them, bears no weight on a person’s worth or ability to enjoy the Kingdom. God can take a couple of loaves of bread and a few fish and feed a multitude. What each of us have is enough for Him. When we live in the Kingdom our perspective is morphed. We do not see tragedy or challenges or blessings in the same way that ‘normal’ people do.
I want to leave you with the wisdom of a child that lives in the world of play and speaks God’s language! This past week, I was explaining about having faith like a grain of mustard seed. We had gone through our chant of how Word of God is true, all the time and that God never lies. I was reading from the Word in Matt. 17 about how God tells us that if we speak to a tree to move or a mountain to move (Luke 21) and it will if we have faith like a grain of mustard seed. (Each child had a mustard seed in his/her hand.) We began discussing that if we believe the life of God is in us, nothing is impossible to us. We were asking questions, thinking hard, creating theories. It was a great discussion. Then one five year old boy that I love so much piped up! I had seen him really thinking and studying. He announced, “God makes everything possible!” I looked at Ms. Margaret with a nod. Yes, I had talked and asked questions for over 10 minutes and this young man of God summed everything up into one simple statement, which was better and more impacting than anything I had said. “God makes everything possible.”
The truth is we want them to enter into our world with God, but maybe it would be better if we entered into their world with God!!!
My friend, Terri, entering into Haven’s world! Both had fun!!
Originally March 4, 2017