At our writer’s retreat, the home was comfortably decorated, warm and welcoming. We immediately felt at home. Nearly every need we could anticipate was provided. We located many extra blessings such as aluminum foil, spices, and soaps / shampoos for anyone who forgot it. And, we’re not talking about hotel sample sizes. These were full-size products – in every bathroom. Plenty of paper products and even laundry soap was available.
For family gatherings, there was plenty to do on-site to help with entertaining youth. We had an air hockey table, pool table, pinball game, theater room with surround sound. Except for one movie, we didn’t use any of the above mentioned amenities the entire 10 days.
Why? Because they didn’t fulfill the purposes for which we had gathered. We were there to work on our books and writing projects, not play. And because long blocks of writing time are so rare in our daily hectic lives, we treasured and valued this time together.
Now, we did take breaks – no one was found at the end, sitting at their keyboard with cobwebs forming. But our breaks were short walks outside (the weather was seasonably warm) or other jaunts that got us up, out of our chairs, and into the common areas of the house to visit with each other if they were out and about. Sometimes, we read from another book to relax and come back to our projects refreshed.
But, the toys remained untouched.
I wonder how many times we are distracted by the toys and forget the purposes for which God created us. Sometimes the toys are obvious and sitting in the middle of the room. Self-control is needed to keep the priorities straight. At other times, the temptation to play is more subtle…facebook, phones, etc. You still need self-control and focus.
Paul spoke of the Christian life as one of training for a race:
“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”
(1 Cor 9:24-27, Message)
Giving it everything I’ve got…not caught napping. This single-minded focus keeps us on target, straining to complete our book or bible study. If we had played with all the available toys, our goal for the writing retreat would not have happened.
There is a time for full-on playtime…it just wasn’t this week.