the value of play

Last month I spent three days learning from Dallas Willard.  He was talking about creation and he said something that has stuck in my head ever since.  He said, “Creation for God was an act of joy, it was play for God.  Play is the creation of values that are unnecessary.”  I had IMG_5296never looked at the act of creation as a time for God to play.  Then He defined Joy as, “persistent wellbeing.” I began to wonder, what is the value that is unnecessary in creation?  The value is: us, animals, trees, figs, water, birds, hippos, zebra’s, intelligence, the circulatory system, photosynthesis, sex, the moon and stars and sun.  Willard’s idea was that God was playing when he made the earth.

My kids play, in watching them I am reminded that there is something Godlike in playing.  I wonder if that is one of the reasons why Jesus said, “let the little children come to me.”  Maybe kids get God on a deeper level because they still have an imagination.  Maybe their reality is far more limitless than ours.  Whatever it is, maybe there is something to playing.

It is in God’s unnecessary love that He lavished on humanity that we begin to see the necessity of love in our life.  According to scientist our brains are wired for love.  What was once unnecessary is now something that we cannot live without.  The fact that God is Love is revealed in the creation and His rejoicing over it.

You can tell your kids that you love them all the time, but I think it is in play that it’s realized.  It is simply unnecessary to get your toenails painted or play hide and seek when they always hide in the exact spot that you just hid in.  Play reveals a love that is inexpressible otherwise.  Their ability to conceive your verbal affirmation of love will only arrive far later than they need it.

May you understanding of God’s love for you grow as you realize that creation is the only way to express that which is otherwise inexpressible.

May you create a value that is unnecessary.

May you get your toes painted or throw a football just because you can.  In so doing, may you find a state of persistent wellbeing.

As Paul says to the people of Ephesus, And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”


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  • Carolyn Jean Hudson

    Love this! I always enjoy your posts involving your kids and family. You all seem so happy all the time that it makes me smile when I see the pictures of your girls enjoying life. You seem like a truly wonderful dad whose love for his children is limitless. I need stuff to make me smile these days so keep it coming.