It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.—Psalm 74:17
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”—Genesis 8:22
He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.—Psalm 104:19
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.—Ecclesiastes 3:1
One of my favorite words is the word balance. I like the way it sounds, and I like what it means. Balance is how we stay upright. If you’re standing on a tightrope, leaning too far to one side or the other causes you to fall. The goal is to remain in the middle.
Then there’s the word tension. We usually think of tension as a negative thing, but actually tension is what keeps us balanced. If you’re standing on a tightrope, and in your hands you hold two ropes, each one attached to a wall on either side of you, pulling too hard on just one rope will mean disaster. But if you pull equally hard on both ropes, you’ll remain upright.
Everywhere we look in creation, we see that God intends His creatures to live in tension between two good things. Each of the seasons, spring, summer, fall, and winter, is a good thing in its time, but a winter or a summer that went on forever would not be a good thing at all. Sleep is a good thing, and being awake is a good thing, but doing just one without the other would be foolish. Like many people, I live in a state of tension between my job and my family. Both are good things, and it would be unwise to give all my attention to one and neglect the other. The goal is balance.
Out of all the examples of balance in our lives, the one that I enjoy the most may be the balance between work and play. Both are good things. Both are important parts of the reason God made us. God made us to be productive on this earth, and he made us to enjoy the earth. He made us to be blessed and be a blessing. If we neglect either one, we are out of balance, and we do not experience life as God intended it.
This past weekend I got to play. Four of us dads took our daughters on a two-day backpacking trip. We hiked through the woods and swam in mountain lakes, we fished and caught frogs and watched the stars come out at night in a beautiful, remote corner of northern California. Then I came home and got cleaned up and took my daughters out to the movies. We ate popcorn and candy and relaxed in the air-conditioned theater. It was a great weekend, full of fun and play.
And now I am working again. There is a sermon to write and meetings to attend, and this week is Vacation Bible School at our church, which means long days of work followed by evenings of serving energetic kids. I am so impressed with the staff and volunteers at our VBS. They give generously of their time, they are patient and playful and loving, and they do it all with a smile. Make no mistake, VBS is a lot of work. But they are happy to do it, to work so that others can play.
Next week many of us from Community Church will serve at the Lasssen County Fair, and it will be more of the same: We will work the ticket counters and clean the bathrooms and take out the trash so other people can ride the rides and eat cotton candy and corn dogs. We will work so that others can play. And we’ll do it with smiles on. We may even enjoy our service as much as they enjoy their day of fun, because God has made us so that it feels good to play, but it also feels good to work. If you could go to the fair every day of the year, eventually you would find it exhausting and empty, and if you had to clean the bathrooms every day of the year while someone else got to pet the baby goats and drink lemonade, eventually you would feel resentful. But when you know that you were made for both, you can enjoy both. You can work, knowing that at some point it will be your turn to play. And you can play knowing that when it’s time to work again, that will be good too, just in a different way.This summer, I hope you are making time for play. I hope you are enjoying sunshine and water and BBQs and the people around you. And I hope you are making time for work. I hope you are serving others and blessing them, using the gifts God gave you to be fruitful. I hope your summer is fun and fulfilling. I hope it is balanced, so you can experience all that God intends for you in this season. Fall will be here soon enough, and then winter, and then spring and summer again, all of it from God, to enjoy and to make the most of. Have a great week!