Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Air Guitar & Conspiracy

My daughters are in on the conspiracy, I’m sure of it.

Almost two weeks ago, the Spirit surprised me with the following words in my head: “I want you to have more fun. . .with me.” Well, I’m having some trouble with that. I mean fun is for weekends and vacation, right? Fun is for kids on a playground and idiot youths on sleepovers. Fun is irresponsible. Fun is not productive. Right? Hasn’t anyone ever told you, with a bit of a sneer, “Hey! You’re having too much fun! Don’t you have a job or something better to do?!” Only they didn’t mean better, they meant harder, more responsible. And more quiet. Probably they meant something like, “Dear God, can’t you get yourself together and act like an adult?!”

The words were drenched with shame on you.

Well, if I’m ever going to live by faith, then, for me, that’s going to mean having more fun with God even around people who might think I’m being, well, bad, or less than the good I should be. Frankly, I don’t particularly like it when people draw the target of disdain on my back—you know what I mean? Have you ever caught a glimpse of someone giving a he’s such an immature idiot look to those who are the audience of your loony moment? It’s like that person is looking around at everyone except you in order to form a gang by shaping their opinion that you are, in fact, an immature idiot. Now, thanks to your looniness, everyone knows what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Let’s get to work, since Ralph, the epitome of immature idiot-ishness, isn’t getting anything done.

Honestly, I adore God, and that often reduces, er, liberates me into childlikeness, which is a really close cousin of childishness. And hasn’t Cousin Childish gotten a bad name? Between those two words, childlike and childish, entire nations have squared-off against each other and gone to war. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but haven’t you noticed how much fighting and shaming goes on by the behavior police over which is which? Over which is acceptable and which is not? I mean, who is to say? Childlike & Childish: A Paradigm for the 21st Century wasn’t a class offered at my college. Yours?

I know, I know. My favorite bible person, Paul, wrote about childishness, telling the Corinthians to knock it off.

9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child (infant), I talked like a child (infant), I thought like a child (infant), I reasoned like a child (infant). When I became a man, I put childish (infantlike) ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:9-12, italics mine)

But Paul wasn’t saying that they should quit acting like kids—stop playing around!—he was telling them (and us) to stop clinging to what we believed when we were imprisoned under the law! If they didn’t, they would be stuck as infants (Nepios, the Greek word) in immaturity—move on! Grow up. There’s a new covenant now where love is the greatest—both the receiving and the giving.

I’d say the church (and me!) is being infantish when it refuses to have fun with God because it’s busy being serious, as if seriousness equals maturity. It doesn’t. Often it means locked-down behavior, the end of funny antics and loony playfulness because The Scrutinizers have spoken. Thus saith The Scrutinizers. Paul meant that we must come away from a faith that keeps us in immature infancy (Nepios); he didn’t mean that we should leave the playfulness of childhood. It is unfortunate that we’ve attached an inaccurate meaning to the word, “childish,” and stuck it into our biblical interpretation. Nepios means “infant,” with regard to what one believes. It usually has nothing to do with behavior and everything to do with believing.

Let’s invite Cousin Childish back into the room, and praise him for his true identity. How ‘bout a round of applause for C2!

Anyway, over the last few days each of my daughters has given me something that has induced childishness in their father. I know God’s in on it, even if they don’t—it’s His conspiracy. First, Emma told me about a video where some guy prays wicked prayers for his former girlfriend, who recently rejected him. (Didn’t see it? Scroll down and look for “New Prayer Tips.”) I loved it, and, throwing off the heretofore well-fitted, I-must-be-serious-before-The-Scrutinizers cloak, posted it all over the place. And then this morning, Ellen gave me a Creedence Clearwater Revival CD with not only some songs I didn’t have (How did THAT happen?!), but one I hadn’t heard in eons—It Came Out Of The Sky. Have you heard it? Come on—it rocks! (Click on the video below.) And I’ve played it eight times already, ripping some fantastic air guitar, air drums and air mouth(!) during at least three of the plays. Maybe four.

So immature. Except that nobody could see. There was no one to scrutinize and shame me. And God loved it. He was on background vocals. He’s pretty good with harmony.

I’m going to go take our dog for a walk, and I’ll be bringing my iPod. CCR is about to be in concert on my head.



  1. Cindi Estep2:44 PM

    Air mouth? LOL I love this!! Little children stand in awe at the created world around them and laugh and giggle at the silliest things. To have a childlike spirit again, care free and full of wonder at my world. His world. Our world....Want to play?

  2. Jessica Robertson3:17 PM

    Humor & childlike fun...I love to be a silly goofball as much as possible. Did you ever just walk down the street and kick your heals up and not care who watches? Every once in a while I can do it..when I am "confident" in who I truly am ;)...when I start to look around and notice who watches...well, I don't always act like I truly am. Those darn masks go up sometimes. Love the note, Ralph.

  3. Charles Spoelstra3:40 PM

    Ralph, God has been trying to teach me the same thing, but I haven't been listening! Well, I want to listen, and really begin to cut up, but then the adult in me says . . . shame on you for acting so silly. I can't help it though, I'm a child at heart, who is growing up enough in the covenant of grace to really show it (someday soon!). I really believe that our joyous Father is much more concerned with fun that we are willing to admit. I mean, He's taken care of all the problems, so what is there to be serious about.

    I'm hope your experience at the AELM this weekend is an incredibly rich one. May you find yourself right in the joyous presence of Jesus. Do a little dance for me, I wish I could be there, but Dawn is just to close to her time.

  4. Anonymous4:07 PM

    New to your blog. Met you on Facebook. Enjoy the thought and life of fun! God bless you in your fun, I mean work...lol

    God Spots

  5. Leonard Fredette6:23 PM

    I print anything over 3 paragraphs, so I print the note, go out to the garage put on my specks, " don't tell the babes", and get about 1/2 way through when Bear, (the neighbors dog), shows up & wants to play, make the tennis ball fly away and I'll slobber on it so it never fly's again but just in case I'll bring it back to you twice its normal weight...
    Guess we're on the same page, played with Bear then enjoyed the rest of this note. Thanks for the tag,
    ps. still enjoying the book, will let ya know when i finish, , , would'a been done by now, but I do mosta my reading in the garage. :)))
    Best to you and yours

  6. Mike McKinzie6:24 PM

    Dude glad you wrote that because I am totally the oppisite. been having more fun than I ever had and always, always I do the spiritual heart check to make sure I am doing good. Thanks man for the heads up. Wish I could tell you some the accounts. Would take too long be really boring to you I am sure.

  7. John Tabita6:24 PM

    You said it yourself recently, that you can be "as shallow as a puddle or as deep as a well, all within 5 minutes." Most people are either one or the other. I guess the balance is not only in being able to be both, but knowing when to be.

  8. Connie Banks10:34 PM

    fun is for all of us at anytime and anyplace without some fun we wont want to do the important things so have some FUN and have a little for me too.

  9. Mari Norton Jackson10:35 PM

    My identity in Christ allowed me to be free and childlike. I soooo enjoy God and the awesome things He reveals to us and just how much fun that is!! I love to be silly with my grandkids and make them laugh. Sometimes I desire to just bust a move to some music I hear in a store...that's when I say to myself, oh Mari, you are too old for that........but I do get a giggle out of the thought. I'm sure God wouldn't mind if I did. I soooooo look forward to heaven because you know that will be more fun than we ever could imagine! Mean while, I am having a lot of fun! Thanks Ralph. Your blogs are always......fun. ;-)

  10. Mike Mckinzie10:35 PM

    Loved what you wrote. "I adore God" So into that myself. I can understand the word joy for the first time in my life.
    3 hours ago ·

  11. David Borum8:18 AM

    I am currently learning this. A very timely word indeed. Thanks for sharing Ralph. The body of Christ needs to get ahold of this truth.

  12. Bonnie Crigger8:18 AM

    LOVE CCR! My fave is "Born on the Bayou". A couple of years ago myself and two friends got together for a Bible study but we all felt the Lord was telling us we needed to be more child-like. So for the next few weeks when we got together instead of having Bible study we played like little children. We had tea parties and blew bubbles and painted our faces and had food fights and played in the mud and just had FUN! Then we went back to being "grown-ups". :(

  13. Colin Lagerwall2:02 AM

    Last Sunday Father said to me....."Come out and play !" I think I've forgotten how to, so I'm asking Him to show all over again how to be like a child and PLAY :)