A couple weeks back I took the family to the Springfield Cardinals game for July 4. Not because of my family’s love of baseball, but because there was a free concert and fireworks show afterwards. (Though the point of calling a concert “free” for people who have already paid escapes me.)
Following the last out, everyone was invited down to the field to get a better view of the band and the fireworks. So we made our way down to the outfield grass with our blankets and $4 bottled water.
On the field I noticed kids running around. And I don’t mean they were playing, I mean they were running, as in a dead-sprint., hair-on-fire running. Sweaty-hot-July-night running. Their sweaty faces looked like glazed donuts.
“Where are their parents?” I thought indignantly. “My kids won’t be doing that,” I added self-righteously.
Then I saw her. She was probably in her mid-twenties, though she was too far away for me to tell. But she was close enough for me to see her dance. And dance she did! She was herking and jerking, all appendages akimbo. Elaine Benes had nothing on this girl!
She would pause before each song to see how she wanted to proceed. “How’s the rhythm? Is it fast or slow? Is this really my jam?” But those pauses seemed irrelevant as she danced the exact same way with each song. At one point I think I saw her air drum and air guitar simultaneously – a site I had only seen once before, at a Friday night worship gathering in the 90s.
She was dancing as if no one was watching. But we were! And I did what any American would do in that situation – I took out my iPhone and started filming.
I was embarrassed for her. I really was. But later on the car ride home I thought “Why?” Why should I be embarrassed for her when she wasn’t embarrassed for herself? In fact, I should be jealous – jealous that she enjoys dancing in the outfield more than I enjoy anything in my life.
I’ve often had a skewed view of what it means to enjoy life. Take church for instance. I used to think that in order to enjoy church you had to feel real bad about yourself. You had to feel awful about all the dirty sinning you did during the week. If you didn’t feel bad at church, then God probably felt bad about you.
When I first started preaching I never smiled. Smiling was for frivolous stuff – NOT for preaching! This is serious stuff! You better not enjoy telling people about Jesus!!!
How wrong I was. In fact, if you don’t enjoy telling people about Jesus, how are they supposed to know that he wants us to enjoy following him?
God wants us to enjoy life. Life is a gift from God. Wouldn’t you be offended if someone didn’t enjoy the gift you gave them?
I look back on that hot July night with a bit of regret about my attitude. I missed out on letting my kids run around sweaty faced. I missed out on making a fresh fool of myself by dancing. I missed out on an opportunity to enjoy life.
I hope my kids don’t inherit my sensibility when it comes to enjoying life. I hope they feel free to dance like lunatics at minor league baseball games. I hope they let their kids run sweaty-faced on hot July nights. I hope they enjoy life a lot more than I have.
But it’s not too late for me. I’m going to start enjoying life more. I think I’ll go try out some new dance moves. But please put away your iPhones before I start.
How do enjoy God’s gift of life? When have you missed out on enjoying life because you thought you weren’t supposed to?