Recreation and Revival
There is a link
By Ted N. C. Wilson
We are now in the middle of the hot summer season where I live here in Maryland. It’s a time when our minds naturally turn to thoughts of recreation, the outdoors, and doing something out of the regular, everyday routine.
Of course, regardless of what season it happens to be, recreation is an important part of my life, and I hope yours. It brings a sense of release from the heaviness, seriousness, and pressure that comes with work and assigned responsibility. Many times I’ve seen that a healthy diversion from routine activities can provide just the stimulus needed to refresh mind and body, and give renewed energy for tackling challenging and difficult situations. It reminds me of “rebooting” my computer when it becomes sluggish or stuck.
The Time Challenge
But as you’ve probably also experienced, it can be a challenge to find time to do something recreationally or some kind of helpful diversion. When I’m in the office, my days are usually filled with what seem like countless individual consultations, meetings, and a variety of committees. Sandwiched between appointments and relegated to the evenings are the ever-present e-mails and letters that seem to fill my life.
When I travel, which is quite often, the pace of activity can be even more challenging. A typical trip is full of public functions, often including attending committees, visiting with public or civic authorities, and meeting with church members. Added to that is the challenge of jet lag. The supposed “glamour” of travel quickly disappears in the heavy load of being constantly ready for public activities, presentations, and the need to encourage people. Sometimes I find it very difficult to get appropriate rest, sunlight, and adequate exercise while traveling.
The time challenge that we all face in one way or another is nothing new. In 1867 Ellen White wrote, “I was shown that Sabbathkeepers as a people labor too hard without allowing themselves change or periods of rest. Recreation is needful to those who engage in physical labor and is still more essential for those whose work is principally mental. It is not essential to our salvation, nor for the glory of God, to keep the mind laboring constantly and excessively, even upon religious themes” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 514).
So in spite of the challenges, I enjoy making time for recreation. For me, some of the most renewing activities involve doing something useful while relaxing. Believe it or not, I like to carry out the normal activities of maintaining a home. I’ve found that even changing a lightbulb or doing other types of home repair can be enjoyable!
Carpentry and home renovation are some of my favorite activities. In home renovation projects I often learn a lot. I’ve found that the creativity needed for these types of projects is useful in helping me find creative approaches for regular “work” activities as well.
Being outside is something I definitely find refreshing. I love working in our yard, doing general upkeep and landscaping. Nancy and I used to have a wonderful vegetable garden, which we thoroughly enjoyed, but we haven’t had time for that in recent years. There’s nothing like wandering to the garden with an empty basket and returning to the kitchen with a pile of yellow squash, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, and lots of cucumbers (one of my favorite foods). One summer we grew about 800 cucumbers, and gave away most of them!
For many years my family and I have enjoyed hiking and mountain climbing. It’s a joy to hike together, especially with our children and grandchildren. We like to plan family vacations—which usually focus on hiking—well in advance. It’s so rejuvenating to be out in God’s nature, seeing His creative power and enjoying the fresh air and refreshing mountain vistas while being with family. Even the smallest of our grandchildren enjoy these outings.
At home Nancy and I like to walk. Years ago we both used to jog, but we now prefer brisk walking for 30 to 45 minutes whenever we can. When we can find the time, we also like to bike along various beautiful bike trails in the metropolitan Washington area.
Many times at the office I find it energizing, as I walk through the building, just to greet and talk with fellow church employees before turning back to committees and other tasks. Many individuals at the General Conference use their two 15-minute breaks each day to enjoy walking outside (or inside when the weather is poor).
God’s Ideal for Us
It’s wonderful how God has created us in such a way that we enjoy variety, and through His Word He urges us to live balanced, healthful lives that are filled with moderation. He wants us to live life abundantly, and indicates the completeness of His wish in 3 John 2: “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (ESV).*
If your life has become stressed, I encourage you to take time for positive Christian activities for yourself and your family. You might be pleasantly surprised at the opportunities you will gain to better serve others. I’ve found that the most enjoyable recreational activities for me are simple, involve something in nature, or provide a benefit to others.
God cares about every aspect of our lives, including our need for recreation. Regardless of where we are, if we ask God to guide us, He will lead us to recreational and service activities that will bring personal physical and emotional benefits as well as glorify Him. He will definitely answer that prayer! I’ve learned that while not all recreational activities will fully fit all those benefits, it’s often possible to accomplish most of them. And of course it’s well-known that many spectator sports don’t provide these types of physical and emotional benefits, and therefore are generally not as rewarding.
I love how Ellen White encouraged families to enjoy time together in beautiful, natural settings: “Parents and children should feel free from care, labor, and perplexity. Parents should become children with their children, making everything as pleasant for them as possible. Let the whole day be given to recreation” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 515).
Revive and Recreate
True practical Christian recreational activity can become a real part of revival and reformation as we ask God to guide us in our work and recreational activities. We can begin our recreation, or rather re-creation, each day as we proactively and purposely carve out time to spend with our Creator. I generally do this at the beginning of the day. It’s a special time for personal prayer, Bible study, and the study of the Spirit of Prophecy. I’ve found God’s Written Word, as well as His second book of nature, rejuvenating.
Since the spiritual dimension in life is foundational to any positive accomplishment professionally and personally, it’s so important that God be the foundation of all our regular and recreational activity. The same God who was powerful enough to create us (see Gen. 1:27) is able and willing to re-create us in His image.
* Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.