A few weeks ago someone posed a question to a group that I’m a part of: “What is God asking you to do? And will you be obedient?” We were encouraged to seek Him and to ask Him what He was calling us to do. I did just that. And almost immediately, I sensed this invitation –
Go and do something you enjoy.
Seriously, Lord? Come on. We are supposed to “report in” about our obedience and this is what You give me?
Do something you enjoy.
Why? I asked. As the Middle East erupts in war. As traffickers trade people like commodities. As people I love mourn people they love. As children starve. As women disappear. As a world weeps for the One who will save it. As a world defiles that same One’s holy Name. This is what He asks of me on a Monday? That I do something I enjoy? Why?
And I’m almost sure this is what He whispered: “Because I want to enjoy it with you. I want to enjoy you.” Oh.
Well, then, what? What should I do? Silence. My choice. My decision. To obey. To have fun. Something inside of me beat back to life. I had a plane ride home to dream up a plan. Swings? I do like them, but that doesn’t seem quite long enough. A trampoline? But I’m not yet cleared for physical activity. (This, though, is still on my list.) A day trip somewhere? But it’s so hot. And, somehow, on a plane bound for home, a trip hardly seems fun to this homebody.
I opened the book I was reading. And I knew. I had been making a list of independent bookstores I wanted to visit around Houston. That was what I would do! I would spend a day exploring them. Just me and God. It felt oddly unholy but wildly freeing. The way it used to feel when I knew my mom didn’t really think I was very sick but consented to let me stay home from school anyway, and she and I would play hooky from the world for seven hours. There is something strangely sweet about stolen time, about someone wanting to spend it with you. When that someone is the Lord? Well. It’s something much more tender than I could describe.
I planned my week to keep Thursday free. I had to drop the dog off at the vet that morning. And my car needed to go to the shop. Then I planned to get a Shipley’s kolache and cinnamon twist (because, yes, donuts), come home and get a little bit of work done, and head out at 10am when the bookstores opened.
At the car shop, they offered me a loaner. And I laughed out loud when the guy drove up in a little Mercedes sports car. I would have been fine with anything. But come on?! I drive a super practical SUV. A sports car?! Don’t tell me that God doesn’t sometimes just up and make us laugh. Parents delight to surprise their children. Why do we think God wouldn’t do the same?
The day was amazing. You know when you want a day to be spectacular, and then sometimes it falls flat? That didn’t happen at all. It really was insanely fun. I went to six bookstores. Between stops 3 and 4, I stopped at Whole Foods and ate lunch while I read. I met neat people – book people. Book people don’t talk to you unless they have something to say. They don’t ask you how you’re doing. They don’t expect you to ask them. They don’t awkwardly follow you around the store. They let you have space. They let you touch things and open things and unwrap things. They let you read the first chapter of as many books as you can handle. They sometimes give you handwritten index-card-coupons that offer 20% off. They get excited when you get excited, but neither of you really has to say much about it. Book people. I am a book person. And it was easy to spend a day with them.
I came home with a stack of treasures. I’ve left them on the floor beside my bed. Because I like to remember. I like to remember how much fun I had. I like to remember that God invited me to enjoy myself – to enjoy Him. I like to remember that He delights to make me smile. Even in the midst of an aching world. I am His child, and He loves me.
He also really, really likes me.
And not just me. He really likes you too. When we laugh. When we wonder. When we notice things that only we would. When we’re wildly unpredictable – and also when we’re eye-rollingly predictable. When we weep for what breaks His heart. When we make someone smile. When someone makes us smile. When we’re completely at ease as the ones He has made us. When we lean our heads back to look up and catch His eye.
When we whisper, I don’t just love you Lord, I really, really like You too. And we wonder at the holiness of it all.
So, go, play hooky for a day. Steal away for seven hours and do something fun. Take your kids with you if you need to. Or call me – I’ll keep them for the afternoon. Dream up a day and then do it. Bombs will still fall. Children and women will still need rescue. It will not fix the world, but it will not harm it either.
Let laughter bubble from that place that has mistaken seriousness for holiness.
And then invite a broken world into that kind of joy. Invite a world that has forgotten what it feels like to be enjoyed into the Presence of the One who delights to see them smile. Invite a world that expects begrudging acceptance at best to know a God who at times makes you laugh with childlike wonder.
Oh, yes, Jesus weeps. He does. I know it. But He smiles too – and sometimes you’re the reason.