I’m a cyclist. I love to get on my bike and—channeling my inner 12-year-old—spin all over the area around my home. I pedal for hours (okay, only two or so, but I’m working towards more). Riding down winding streets with bright green trees, birds singing, and wind blowing, is something I long for. I ride through the country in view of cows, snakes, and even an alpaca.
Cycling wasn’t so easy for me to enjoy at first. I couldn’t figure out why something I loved so much was so difficult. I would get on my bike and almost immediately begin to think of all the other tasks I needed to be doing. This rehearsal in my head would lead to guilt, and I struggled to find the freedom to exercise—to take a break and simply rest. In my mind, I needed something to validate the ride, beyond the sheer fact that I truly found it refreshing to get on my bike and go.
It seems more godly to pray than to go for a ride or sit outside with a friend and enjoy a sunset. If we follow these man-made rules and expectations, we can quickly find ourselves stripped of the freedom to find joy in various gifts.
When I’ve had ice cream on a summer day, I take lick after lick and bite after bite, but I don’t realize that the cold milky substance dripping into my dry mouth instantly cooling my overheated body comes from God, the giver of all good things. So, we eat a meal and it’s just another meal. Or we walk outside and those majestic mountains on the horizon that sing about the glory of the Lord aren’t even noticed.
A bike ride was difficult for me because I felt I should be working—a notion directly tied to legalism. Some of us think if we try harder, work harder, read more, or pray better, then and only then can we approach God. But the good news of the gospel is that if we are found in Christ, then we can’t possibly earn more of God’s love or favor. We have the freedom to rest, enjoy, and slow down because we don’t have to constantly perform and try to elevate our status before God. Ultimately, the work of Jesus on the cross gives us the freedom to enjoy a break.
God delights in His children enjoying all that He has made, and our enjoyment is a proper response to His generosity. If He says that whether we eat or drink, we’re to do all things to His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31), then surely all things would include those things for which Scripture might not have a specific directive.
I couldn’t figure out why something I loved so much was so difficult.
We don’t need each other’s permission to enjoy life, but I invite us to live a little, rest in Jesus, and take a few deep breaths. As God’s image bearers, you and I reflect certain aspects of our Father. And He’s given us the capacity to declare, as He did over His creation, “It is good.”
When you create a meal for your family, and you know you nailed it—the flavors are rich and delicious, and second helpings are quickly requested—how does that feel? Or if you are artistic, think of your elation in those rare moments when you can step back and see that you’ve created a masterpiece. Whatever creating looks like for you, sharing in the Lord’s declaration that it is good brings joy.
So let’s make a decision to stop and literally smell the roses. Let’s delight in and with our children as they explore the world around them. Let’s leave our couches and pray on long walks in the park. Let’s read books. And if we don’t have the hours available to do such things, we can take a few minutes to appreciate the silence—to give thanks for our Father’s perfect gifts—and enjoy them all.