The Power of Play

Ever since I sat in my school desk next to the little girl with everything, I’ve wanted it.  As I maturated through the grade school years, some kid always had one – and I didn’t. Even during the hormonal years of adolescence, I wanted one and didn’t get it. Somehow, it was so special – I couldn’t even whisper to Santa Claus or to Jesus that I wanted one. The desire just stayed in a secret cubicle of my heart. Until this year.

Then one of our incredible volunteers at GateWay gave me what I had so wanted for so long – a box of 64 Crayolas with the sharpener on the back. Also tucked into my Christmas sack was a unique coloring book with special tabs that lift to help reveal the entire picture.

Okay, I know I’m way past grade school – even high school – okay, even post graduate school. But that box of 64 with the sharpener on the back was the icing on my Christmas cookies. Not only did our volunteer present the perfect gift, but she confirmed the truth of the power of play.

Especially in our stress-filled lives, we need to recognize once again the gorgeous joy of play. During Christmas, I watched my great-niece busy at the work that toddlers do best – they play. She moved from one toy to the next, testing the shapes and licking the colors until she knew exactly how to make them work for her – to experience the height of joy in play. I wanted to be a toddler again, to forget the traumas of my childhood and the stresses of growing up and the financial burdens of today.

Then I realized – I can indeed be that young again. I pack up my coloring book and my new box of 64 with the sharpener on the back and drive to a quiet coffee shop where I play. For an hour, I find joy in being creative. I forget the rest of the world and all the other stress-filled people while I choose a picture to color. During that hour, I tap in to that young girl in pigtails who loved running around the farm and saw Jesus in every change of the seasons. As I choose a vibrant color from so many to outline my picture, I remember how God outlines me in His book of life. Then I pick a shading color to provide texture and movement on the page. I praise God for the many ways He shades my life with His compassion and provision and joy. When I am finished and pack up my box of 64 with the sharpener on the back, I know the fulfillment of an hour spent with myself and my Lord.

Then once again, I ask God to bless that GateWay volunteer who gave from her generous heart and reminded me of the power of play.