A Playful God

As I sit here watching a medal ceremony from the Berlin World Track and Field Championships, I am struck by the smiles on these faces, the records they are breaking and the graces God is bestowing upon us through this magical event!


Andrew Cooper’s Playing in the Zone – Exploring the Spiritual Dimensions of Sports speaks a lot about peak performances and flow.  He reminded me  of Scottish sprinter Eric Liddell.  Many of you remember him from the story Chariots of Fire.  His quote- “God made me fast.  And when I run I can feel his pleasure.”  A very unexpected and indeed inspired statement, as Cooper points out.  Another quote referenced Charles Barkley as having said “I think God is in my body.”


Far to often we focus on, and indeed read about in the Bible, a God who created this massive universe, who came into the world to act as the deliverer to the people Israel from their bondage in Egypt, then to all who are bound by sin and death, through his son Jesus Christ.  God’s got a big job; she has serious work to do!  Would a God with such cosmic concerns give a linesman’s push resulting in an Eli Manning miracle throw in the 2008 Super Bowl, thrusting the Giants downfield in their last attempt at ruining a perfect Patriot season?  


Maybe not, but let’s just admit that we do define God far to narrowly.  Sure, for humanity, God probably started out “somewhere out there” creating such lofty things as the heavens and the earth.  But, let us also allow for the fact that if indeed God has manifest us, in the shape and form we are, with the skills and qualities we have been graced with, in her own likeness- then in some measure Barkley is right- God IS in us all!  God is the life force coursing through our veins, bouncing through the air molecules that we breath and God is the glowing energy as the glucose travels through our cells to do its miraculous work.  God is weird!  And that’s the mystery!  


Liddell’s quote also confirms Cooper’s assertion that by doing something well, be it a prayer, a dance, a kick, a throw, a climb or any ritual act we might undertake, we are expressing our relationship with God, both through the care and concern for our skill and the devotion of our heart toward creativity and fulfillment!  God clearly takes delight in our achievements, big and small, but to experience God’s joy while we are doing it is truly playing in the zone! 



Well, I’ve now traveled from the Berlin Track and Field World Championships to my daughters first gymnastics class.  I find both to be equally enchanting, each in their own way.  Further confirmation of a playful God.  What could transport my soul from professionals to children and hold my attention just the same?  The same God who amazes me with human feats on a track far far away, enthralls me with the attempts of children flinging themselves across the floor just below the balcony I stand on.  That is truly a God who is everywhere and in everyone!!  I’m going to stop writing so I can go watch the kids, and talk to some parents now.

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