Greetings MOL Family!
Welcome back to part 2 of our study on God’s beautiful forms of recreation for His children…
Finding Something Better
There is another activity which the Lord has given us definitely for recreation, and that is useful work – useful labor. “Well,” somebody says, “I don’t see much pleasure about that.” But in Volume 1, you will read the words of the prophet:
I saw that there was pleasure in industry, a satisfaction in pursuing a life of usefulness. – Testimonies for the Church, Volume 1, pg. 503
In the book Counsels to Teachers we read this instruction to the teachers and students in our schools:
In the place of providing diversions that merely amuse, arrangements should be made for exercises that will be productive of good. … Satan would lead them to believe that amusements are necessary to physical health. – Counsels to Teachers, pg. 354
What will the devil try to get people to believe? That they have to go into worldly amusements for their health. Now watch:
But the Lord has declared that the better way is for them to get physical exercise through manual training, and by letting useful employment take the place of selfish pleasure. – Ibid
Oh, isn’t that nice. We can get something done with our exercise instead of getting undone.
Now, when you consider garden tools; they are not too different from a golf stick, a golf club, is it? Each has a handle, and each has something on the end designed to do something. And let me say, friends, if I were you, I would never condemn the man out with the golf clubs. Almost everybody who is out on the golf links is doing something better than he would be doing if he weren’t there.
So, don’t try to condemn him; don’t say, “That’s wrong.” No, no. But if you find more pleasure in hoeing in your garden of lettuce or roses, and have the satisfaction, at the end of the recreational period, of knowing you are going to have something to eat or something beautiful that you helped to grow, then you have found something better.
Remember, God’s program of recreation is not some yoke of bondage that you groan under and look at the free, happy spirits of the world and say, “I’m in jail. You have got to come in here with me, too.” Oh, no. No.
I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. – Psalm 119:45
Let us learn experimentally the joy and satisfaction of getting something done in our exercise. What do you say?
“Well,” somebody says, “Then is all there is to recreation just work, and Bible study, and getting acquainted with nature? Is there never any time for play at all?” Yes, there is time for play. It is true that we are told in the Spirit of Prophecy:
“Diligent study is essential, so also is diligent hard work. Play is not essential.” – Counsels to Teachers, pg. 308
But you know, I find in the diet that, while the Lord puts in all the essentials, He puts some trimmings on it too, doesn’t He? Yes. That’s right. We could live without the delicious flavor of the watermelon, or the beautiful color of it, or the strawberry. We could live without it. We can live without play, but play has a place in the program of recreation.
If you want something interesting, take your index and look up the word “play.” Play is important, especially in the program of the child, the little child. Education has something on this:
The little child finds both diversion and development in play. – Education, pg. 215
What does the little child find in play? Diversion and development. He is getting recreation when he plays:
And his sports should be such as to promote not only physical, but mental and spiritual growth. – Ibid
Oh, think of it, you parents and teachers who guide your children in play (and you should, as teachers and as parents, guide your children in play), remember that the sports of the child, what he plays, should promote what? Physical growth, and mental growth, and spiritual growth. It would hardly be the thing to teach him sports, then, that turn into war games, contests, that teach him to beat the other fellow and glory in winning, and so forth. No. There is a better way!
Oh, what a standard and what a challenge to every parent and teacher. And may I suggest, dear friends, the answer to that is not to say, “Oh, well, I don’t know anything to play that doesn’t have contest in it.” There are some people who will actually tell you they don’t know anything to drink that doesn’t have alcohol in it. They have just been used to it all their life, that’s all. But you and I could tell them several things to drink that don’t have a drop of alcohol in them, right?
And every teacher and every parent should know dozens of things for children to do that are play, pure unadulterated play, that don’t have a drop of alcohol of competition and rivalry in it. Begin to study that. Begin to ask God for ideas.
In this book Adventist Home, we have another interesting reference on play, and I want to share it with you. It has precious light for us:
I do not condemn the simple exercise of playing ball. – Adventist Home, pg. 499
You know this book, of course, came out after I was a grown man. My, my, when I was about 14 or 15, I think if I could have bought it with money, I would have paid a great deal for that reference. But I didn’t know it. It wasn’t out yet. You see, as I told you, I had come in contact with references where baseball and tennis were condemned by the Spirit of Prophecy, and I had stepped out on it. But there still lingered in my mind and heart the desire for that sort of thing. And as new books from the Spirit of Prophecy would come out, like Fundamentals of Christian Education and others, I would be looking up, “Is there anything in there about baseball, about tennis, or about some of these other things.” Well, this one came out years later.
“I do not condemn the simple exercise of playing ball…” Do you know what the next word is? But…. That’s right:
…but this, even in its simplicity, may be overdone. – Ibid
Read the whole passage so you get the setting. I want to ask you something… If I go outside with a child, and the child and I throw a ball back and forth, is that a simple exercise of playing ball? Anything wrong with it? No. Parents, teachers, never lose the joy of playing with children, and never think that all your exercise has got to be work, work, work. If you have to learn to play, learn to play, and enjoy it.
Why, sometimes we are to give an entire day to recreation, not just a few minutes. Adventist Home has some wonderful counsel on this:
Let several families living in a city or village unite and leave the occupations which have taxed them physically and mentally, and make an excursion into the country, to the side of a fine lake, or to a nice grove where the scenery of nature is beautiful. – Adventist Home, pg. 501
Did you ever see it done? Did you ever have a part in it? Oh, yes. We believe in doing what we study and studying what we are doing. Isn’t that right? Isn’t it wonderful to have a divine blueprint – even tells what to take for lunch. Now the next page, continuing the same passage:
On such occasions 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. – Ibid., pg. 502
Then it says, when we do that, we can return to our occupations with new life, to engage in our labor with zeal, and we are better prepared to resist disease. We don’t have to wait until the church or the Sabbath School or the institution puts on an excursion of 25 or 50 or 100 or 200 people. Any family can do this anytime that they can arrange it. Am I right? Parents and children together can enjoy the day in recreation.
Then there are social gatherings. This book Messages to Young People has a whole section on recreation and amusements. It is well to study this. On page 387, you will find a chapter dealing with social gatherings, the right kind and the wrong kind.
There is a type of missionary endeavor which is also called recreation. When Sister White was over in Avondale – that pattern school – the question came up early in its development, “What shall we do for the recreation of our students?” The teachers asked that. You will find that in Counsels to Teachers, pg. 549
So, Sister White, guided by the Holy Spirit, told them that they could occupy their minds and time profitably without trying to devise methods for amusing themselves. Then comes this sentence:
Instead of spending time in playing the games that so many students play, strive to do something for the Master.
The very best course for you to pursue is to engage in missionary work for the people of the neighborhood and in the near-by settlements. – Counsels to Teachers, pg. 549
So they did that. Read the story on pages 549 and 550, how the students, guided by the prophet, came together to study how to learn their Bibles so they could go out and help others; to learn medical missionary work so they could go out and help others. They did it, and what was the result? To work for the Master came to be regarded as Christ-like recreation. Have you found it so? Is there a thrill that comes in going out and meeting the people in their homes, ministering to their needs, physically and spiritually? Oh, yes. We come back refreshed. We have had
diversion, and we have had joy and satisfaction.
In 1900, the last year that Sister White was in Australia, at the anniversary of the school, the principal thought that he would give the students a special treat. And so, he had a day devoted to recreation and amusements in which they brought in some equipment and had some games of tennis and cricket. You can read that story beginning on page 348 of this book, Counsels to Teachers. The next night, Sister White was given a vision and saw what was being done. The next morning, she came and reproved the teachers and students for the way they had spent their day of recreation and amusement.
There’s a letter that the principal of that school wrote describing that experience, just what happened, what Sister White said, how he felt about it and the conversion that took place in his heart as he studied these great principles. He learned that even once a year was too often to introduce the wine of Babylon into the recreation of the students.
Oh, friends, how wonderful to learn by experience the joy of communion with God. The joy of contented industry, and the joy of missionary work for the people in the surrounding areas. All of those three great fundamental things add up to recreation, with the occasional excursion or social gathering that adds a little bit of flavor. As you study these chapters on recreation, I pray God that each of you will more and more know the joy and the recreation that comes through fellowship with our Lord.
May the Lord bless and direct each one, as we seek to enter into this experience, today!
Join us next week, as we look at God’s beautiful way to experience His love for us. Invite a friend, and we’ll see you then…
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* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.