Escapism vs. Re-Creation

A couple of days before I delivered this teaching on June 25, my family returned home from five days of trailer camping near Wenatchee.  Camping is an interesting blend of work and fun, isn't it? Whether it's car camping or backpacking, there's prep and work involved.  But when I taste that first sip of coffee in the cool morning or see my family playing in the river, camping can be recreational, or literally, and experience of re-creation -- being renewed in mind, body, and spirit.

This summer we're talking each week about the spirituality of fun, humor, and joy!   But the things we do for fun aren't always "re-creational," are they?  Sometimes they're fun but exhausting.  And sometimes, we use our fun as an excuse or distraction from important matters that need our attention.  This is known as "escapism."  The difference between escapism and re-creation is less in what we do, and more in how and why we do it!  Consider again the simple act of camping.  It could be just as easily used to get away from one's family or run from life's challenges, which will just be waiting for the camper when they return.

Scripture speaks to this re-creational balance of life  in numerous ways.  In Exodus 20:8-11, God gives the command to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy (set it aside as special from the rest of the week.)  Much later, Proverbs 30:7-9 prays that God would provide only that which we need to remain content -- no more, and no less.  Both scriptures are there because, frankly, we need them.  We're not very good at "doing fun" in a re-creational way.  We tend to exhaust ourselves or over-indulge.  But Jesus is our example, as he never tried to escape life's challenges but always answered them with re-creation.  So, Jesus offers us re-creation when we entrust ourselves to God's care.

1) Re-creation comes from remembering who is actually in charge.  Trick question: who is in charge of the Earth?  Answer?  God!  And we are, too!  Our instinct to run the show is part of God's image in us, but it becomes sinful when we try to be the ultimate authority, even of our own lives.  The truth is that God gives us a lot to be in charge of, but not everything.  We experience re-creation when we let go of being in charge of everything, we choose not to "eat the forbidden fruit" of Genesis 3 and remain united to God as our loving provider.  Try this experiment: one day in the next seven, choose to not be in charge of anything in your entire life.  That includes turning off your phone, so you aren't "in charge" even of maintaining your friendships.  Just for one day.  What do you think would happen?

2) Re-creation comes from remembering that the best things in life are free.  I know this can sound naive coming from someone like me who, at present, doesn't worry daily about food and shelter.  But I vividly remember living on only $700/month, including rent and all my utilities.  That was in 2005, not too long ago.  What's interesting is that the things I wanted most then are the same as the things I want most now -- and money can't buy any of them.  The things our heart hungers for are purpose, joy, loving relationships.  Money can buy a lot that supports these things, but in the end, they are priceless.

3) Re-creation comes from remembering the source of our joy. If this were a Sunday school class, how would you answer the question "What is the source of our joy?"  "God!"  Right?  Yes!  But why?  John tells us that God is love, and that is because God is relational in God's triune nature as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Out of this perfect loving relationship, God created the cosmos and human beings to share in and embody that relational love.  Jesus said, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love…I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete...This is my command: Love one another.” (‭‭John‬ ‭15:9-12‬)  God is love, and thus loving relationship is the source of our joy, just as it is the source of Jesus' joy.  

Reflect:
- Have you ever had an experience of pure re-creation?  Describe it in the comments here or to someone you know.
- Have you ever had fun only to realize you were exhausted afterward?  What was that like?
- Have you ever done something fun and upon reflection realized you were really trying to escape something in your life?  What was that like?
- What is one small step you can take this week to avoid escapism, lean into healing, and have an experience of re-creation for your mind, body, and spirit?



1 Comment


Sallie Vargo Zimmer - August 1st, 2021 at 12:39pm

Great message. Needed that today.

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