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Holy Play - Excerpt
OUR GREAT BELOVED PARTNER
Imagine going to your mailbox or email and receiving the following message:
Although you are an adult, from this day forward I want you to do everything I tell you to do.
I will make all of your decisions for you. I will solve your problems. I will tell you what to do,
when to do it and how. Your job is to do as I say, and trust that living this way is in your best interest.
With Deepest Love,
Convinced that it was not a hoax, perhaps most of us would be initially numb and then bowled over from having heard from our divine parent in this way. Maybe days and even weeks and months would pass by with our walking on clouds: "God wrote me a letter saying all I have to do is follow instructions! Life is easy!”
How long do you imagine your new joy would last? I know when the thrill would leave me, the second I realized that God had in fact taken from me what had been originally lavishly bestowed on me: human freedom.
Though this letter is special because it is in God’s handwriting, the message is, I contend, anything but holy. Take a second look at the letter. Read it again slowly and aloud. If you are honest with yourself, you can almost feel the energy of life oozing out of you. A friend once told me of an experience she had in her early days as a police office. When she arrived at one scene and observed a man who was unconscious, she immediately began administering CPR. Soon after the emergency medical technicians arrived, examined the man, and immediately pronounced him dead. My friend assumed that the man had died while she was administering CPR. She was shocked to learn that the man had been dead for sometime. Later reflecting on her experience, she confessed that all the while she was breathing into the man’s body, it was as if she was blowing into an empty room. She concluded, "His spirit had already left, there was nothing inside.”
Though the imaginary letter from God appears to offer something akin to life; it, in fact, does not. It is a letter that effectively kills off human freedom and initiative. With this letter, divine parent essentially usurps the child’s right to a free and creative life.
The Letter as Law
This imaginary letter symbolizes the way much of popular Christian thinking views God and vocational discernment. God is pictured as a divine parent who has a set-script for our lives. Our job is to locate and pledge allegiance to the script, and then spend a lifetime decoding it and living up to it, or else. If the consequences of our own failure don’t do us in, no matter, God will get us later in the afterlife.
Such an understanding results in living bondage. Eliminate human freedom and life becomes a dreary shade of grey. A belief in a domineering God-parent unintentionally diminishes some of God’ greatest gifts to humankind, including imagination, creativity, and daring. It blinds us to the possibility that what God desires most of all is for us to own our responsibility for deliberately creating our lives.
As I am writing this, the morning sun is shining mightily in my home office window. Its rays are indicative of brilliantly bright and liberating what-ifs: What if the goal of life is not to live according to script, but to write your script and live it out freely and playfully in the presence of a delightfully expectant and supportive God? What if God’s purpose for you is to discover and explore passion after passion, in service to others and to the glory of God? Now, these are laws to not only live by but to dance by.
Holy Play: The Joyful Adventure of Unleashing Your Divine Purpose