I didn't write this. Mike Yaconelli wrote this. And I realize this is the second blog entry in a row inspired by heroes of mine, both of whom died in car accidents. I didn't do it intentionally. And I apologize if I'm breaking any laws by posting this. I had to re-type it all, because I can't find it on the web, anywhere. He wrote it years ago, in a now-defunct magazine, and I made a copy of it (another law violation?) and stuck it in a box in my garage. When I read it on the air today, we were inundated with requests to see it, so here you go.
I highly recommend Mike's book Messy Spirituality, by the way. He was a game-changer for me.
It's Time to Party, by Mike Yaconelli
Recently, my wife and I were having our devotions and reading our favorite devotional guide, Cosmopolitan. In it was another one of those mindless quizzes. (You know the ones: How Responsible Are You? How Sensual Are You? Do You Have ESP? Will Your Marriage Last?) One of the questions caught my eye. It said:
Which would you prefer?
a) a wild, turbulent life filled with joy, sorrow, passion, and adventure - intoxicating successes and stunning setbacks, or
b) a happy, secure, predictable life surrounded by many friends and family, without such wide swings of fortune and mood?
I thought the answer was obvious. Everyone, I thought, would choose the first option. I was shocked to discover that a good majority would choose the second option. And then it occurred to me: I have been working with adolescents for the past twenty-nine years. And, when I ask them to describe adults, one word always comes up - borrrrrring.
As I began to think about it, I realized that most adults I know are boring. They don't have fun anymore. Oh sure, get a few drinks under their belts and they act alive for awhile. But that's not what I mean. I'm talking about being and acting alive all the time.
The truth is that games are wasted on the young. Little kids don't know how to play games. Remember when you were seven years old and you played hide-and-seek? You'd hide behind a telephone pole with half your body hanging out. No, hide-and-seek isn't for children. It's for people like you and me. Now that I'm 46, I know how to hide. I'm a darn good hider.
I have suggested a game of hide-and-seek to many adult audiences and I am always amazed at the response. I see adults all throughout the group nudging each other, quietly discussing a great hiding place they just thought of, secretly planning a game with their children. It doesn't take much to make most of us realize that we have become too serious, too stressful. The result is that we hae forgotten how to live life. It seems like the older we get, the more difficult it is for us to enjoy living. It reminds me of a description of life given by Rabbi Edward Cohn:
"Life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time, all your weekends, and what do you get at the end of it? ... I think that the life cycle is all backward. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live twenty years in an old-age home. You get kicked out when you're too young. You get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You go to college; you party until you're ready for high school; you go to grade school; you become a little kid; you play. You have no responsibilities. You become a little baby; you go back into the womb; you spend your last months floating; and you finish up as a gleam in somebody's eye."
It's hard to imagine we were a gleam in someone's eye once. What happened to the gleam in our eye? What happened to that joyful, crazy, spontaneous, fun-loving spirit we once had? The childlikeness in all of us gets snuffed out over the years.
A.W. Tozer once said, "This society has put out the light in men's souls." He had it right. The more pagan a society becomes, the more boring its people become. The sign that Jesus is in our hearts, the evidence of the truth of the Gospel is... we still have a light on in our souls. We are alive, never boring, always playful, exhibiting in our everydayness the "spunk" of the Spirit.
The light in our souls is not some pious somberness. It is the spontaneous, unpredictable love of life. Christians are not just people who live godly lives. We are people who know how to live, period. Christians are not just examples of moral purity. We are also people filled with a bold mischievousness. Christians not only know how to practice piety. We also know how to party.
I believe it's time for the party to begin.