We all need play. But we all need more than play, too.
A cousin of mine has been very successful in several business ventures. He has worked hard over many years and has accumulated wealth and property. He has the accouterments of luxury that one might expect, in the form of homes, cars, boats, an airplane, and a farm in the country. This cousin has traveled extensively in pursuit of his interests and passions. Along the way, his family has fallen apart and he has experienced a lot of heartache and pain. His “success” has not brought him the peace of mind and satisfaction that he thought it would.
When I see this relative, now infrequently, he always asks me the same question. After our initial greeting, he says, “Hey, what are you doing for fun?” You see, after a lifetime of toil, he doesn’t find much pleasure or joy in his pursuits. He is still looking for that elusive something to fill the void in his life—and he is not alone.
The movie industry is burgeoning with more film releases every year, which generates huge profits for the producers as people fill the theaters to be entertained and to lose themselves for a little while in a make-believe world.
It is certainly not wrong to enjoy playing a game or watching a good movie, as long as we do so in balance and do not become distracted from the basic things that bring a happy life. King Solomon of Israel, who was given a gift of great wisdom by God, wrote, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven… a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–4).
As human beings, we should find time to play, to enjoy something that brings us delight and pleasure—but always in moderation and never at the expense of others. If some item or activity breaks one of the Ten Commandments or ridicules godly principles, it simply is neither fun nor funny. If an activity is healthy, such as physical exercise, or if it challenges you intellectually, increasing your knowledge of something worthwhile, then it is uplifting and beneficial. There is a gnawing emptiness within all human beings that cannot be filled with physical things or pastimes, though many people try to assuage the feeling with work, “stuff,” or leisure activities.
For the young and the old alike, play is important in developing the balanced life our Creator would want us to have. So, whether they are board games or video games, stage productions or novels, symphony concerts or movies, athletic games or walks in the park, such activities help us maintain a wholesome balance in our lives. But make no mistake—these activities satisfy only temporarily and are no substitute for a close relationship with God, a relationship that can only be developed over time as we seek His Kingdom first, as Jesus the Christ said in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
As our article on page 12 of this issue explains, there are many things that we can do that will contribute to our sense of happiness and satisfaction. But, as the same article notes, one of the best ways to find happiness is to stop pursuing it and to embrace a larger purpose for our lives.
I hope my cousin will someday find what is missing in his life, and his work and his play will finally bring him what he truly wants: “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).