August 30, 2004

Fun - Part 2
"And you and the Levites and the aliens among you 
shall rejoice in all the good things the LORD your God 
has given to you and your household" (Devarim / 
Deuteronomy 26:11).

Last week I looked at how fun is a priority for many 
people today. For them life without fun isn't worth 
living. Others are willing to do without fun in order 
to accomplish goals more important to them. In 
discussing this subject I may have given the 
impression that I think that fun may be a bad thing.

In response to this, I received an e-mail from someone 
named Ray, who wrote, 

"The Torah states: "Thou shalt rejoice in every good 
thing the L-rd thy G-d giveth thee." If that isn't 
fun, what is? - Ray."

Ray is referring to the verse I quoted at the 
beginning of my message:

"And you and the Levites and the aliens among you 
shall rejoice in all the good things the LORD your God 
has given to you and your household" (Devarim / 
Deuteronomy 26:11).

I don't know if Ray is aware of this, but this verse 
is part of this week's parsha. A parsha is the weekly 
scheduled Scripture portion read as part of the 
synagogue service.

This week's parsha (Devarim / Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8) 
includes directions for how the people were to respond 
to each year's gathering of produce at the beginning 
of the harvest. This was known as first fruits. When 
harvesting the first fruits the people were to take 
time to remember their early history. They were to 
remember how they began as a small clan in an alien 
land, grew to be many in another foreign country which 
eventually enslaved them, and how God delivered them 
from oppression and brought them back to the Promised 
Land. 

As they did this, they were to rejoice. To rejoice is 
to be glad and to celebrate with joy.

According to Ray, "If this isn't fun, what is?"

Some may not think this is fun. My guess is that most 
people equate fun with what used to be called a 
diversion. A diversion is an activity that serves to 
distract from the regular routines of life. After a 
hard day at work, many people seek to have fun, 
looking for an activity from which they can derive 
pleasure and that tends to lack any sense of 
obligation or responsibility. Fun often serves to dull 
the pain we experience from the regular routine of 
life.

What the Torah is calling for is more rightly called 
joy. To experience joy is to have a deep sense of 
satisfaction. When we rejoice we celebrate something 
of the goodness of life.

Fun and joy are similar in that both are pleasurable 
experiences. The difference is that fun is often 
something we need to create outside of the normal 
routine of life, while joy is a possibility in most 
things.

I think what Ray was saying is that if we did what God 
was directing in the Torah, and rejoice in our 
provision, we would experience the sense of well being 
that many of us are seeking through our pursuit of 
fun.

To take this further, if we can see our lives as part 
of the great plan of God in the world, we may begin to 
derive a sense of satisfaction that we never dreamed 
possible. In that sense even the more mundane events 
of life can become fun. Fun in the sense that our 
activities bring us pleasure due to the sense of 
satisfaction we derive from them.

This week is also the 28th anniversary of my coming to 
believe in Yeshua as the Messiah. I can remember so 
clearly that one of my most common complaints prior to 
then was that I was bored. I remember the profound 
experience of going out, whether it be to school, to a 
party, or whatever, and coming back home feeling as if 
I had accomplished absolutely nothing as the emptiness 
of life consumed me.

All that changed on September 3, 1976. Coming to know 
Yeshua began an adventure of a kind I thought was only 
possible in books and movies. The life journey I have 
been on since hasn't been easy. In fact I have 
experienced all sorts of difficulties and challenges. 
And yet, I have reason to rejoice. God is with me and 
I have seen him work in and through me and others. For 
that I am so grateful. So I rejoice. If that is not 
fun, what is?

Thanks, Ray, for the reminder!