My husband and I are about half-way through our two-week vacation in Orlando, Florida. Each year we make our temporary residence at a lovely, three-bedroom condominium on the property of the Marriott World Center. Then – the family comes. Children and grandchild join us to play, swim, and exhaust ourselves at many of Orlando’s famous theme parks and attractions. Ordinary and fantasy merge together; household tasks and castles in the sky amalgamate; family unit and fictional characters unite. Orlando – the place where dreams come true!
I have been reflecting on the vast difference between the fantasyland and the harsher realities of everyday life. We all must deal with living in the real world, walking with our feet on the ground, and facing life as it really is. However, long experiences with tough issues and the hard grind can leave marks upon us. We can find ourselves with a negative perspective, a skeptical outlook, if not even a hardened heart. When these scenarios try to set in upon us, they diminish our vitality and productivity. The challenge before us is to learn to endure the rough battles of life without losing the romantic hope of victory and the innocent wonder that makes the battle worthwhile.
An occasional trip to a fantasyland is just what the doctor ordered. That land may be the world of the grandchild, a favorite TV show, a walk through the woods, or a bicycle ride in the park. The place of our renewal is not as important as the renewal itself. No one would advocate a continuous lifestyle of play, adventures, dreams, or escape; but a ‘now and then’ visit into this realm is the counter weight that gives our lives a balanced point of view. Pulling away from the demands, the problems, and the pressures in order to renew the imagination, restore the strength, and revitalize the stamina sends us back to our daily activities with a brightness of mind and a freshness of energy.
The Bible teaches us about this needed balance in the principle known as Sabbath rest. The pattern is found in the creation account where God is seen to work six days and to rest on the seventh. Throughout the pages of scripture, God admonishes man to follow His example and to rest one day out of the week. Apparently, seven hard work days makes one weak.
What is a weak man? Weakness is found in the realist who is without imagination, in the person whose firm resolve lacks tender compassion, the hard worker who has forgotten how to smile at life’s little ironies, or the entrepreneur whose bank account is full while his home is bankrupt. Weakness is manifest in the inability to enjoy a sunset, reflect upon the events of the day, pause to hear the laugh of the child, or remember to thank God for His tender mercies. Weakness is self-importance overload.
In our busy, hurry-up world where achievements are publicized, opportunities are limitless and boundaries appear to be non-existent, we can find it hard to resist the temptation to ignore the weekly Sabbath rest and to replace it with months of ceaseless activity. And often, the price we pay in our minds, bodies, and relationships is much greater than we estimate.
Perhaps this week would be the right time to begin striking the balance between work and play, between realities and wishes, between worry and faith. Perhaps your trip to fantasyland is closer than you dreamed.