When I was a kid, my dad used to play this game with us. He would flop on the floor in the middle of the big sheepskin rug and ‘play dead’. Our job as kids was to tiptoe oh-so-gingerly across the carpet, seeing how close we could get before he’d grab a leg, a finger or a snip of clothing.
The point of the game was to not get caught and if we saw the slightest movement from the sleeping monster, we’d run away squealing with red-faced excitement before he ‘woke up’
I’ve been thinking this week about this idea of playing dead. And how easy it is to do, emotionally, every day.
Some animals, like possums and hedgehogs (and dads) play dead all the time. A terrible threat (or a perceived threat) comes their way and they either curl up into a tiny protective ball or flop dramatically into a dead-like pose.
If I’m dead, you can’t actually hurt me further. There’s nothing worse than dead.
For a long time now, I’ll admit, in lots of different ways, I’ve been playing dead.
I mentioned (several times….ha!) the interesting experience I had a few weeks ago, and from that point, it’s been as though everything is very much alive.
It’s almost as though I see life, God’s word, my circumstances, the situations I’m walking into, with the spiritual equivalent of Google glasses.
In the past, when threat and trouble bubbled up, on the inside I’d curl myself up into a little hedgehog ball.
Nothing to see here.
Wait till the threat has passed. Just be quiet. Play dead.
It’ll soon be over.
And yet, I can’t see anything at all in the Bible that says this is an ok way to live.
In fact, everything that I’m currently reading in Acts and Ephesians is about WAKING UP, it’s about grabbing every opportunity, about chasing, walking, moving forward into everything that God is doing.
In that environment, knowing I’m loved, trusted and secure, why on earth would I ever want to play dead?
Ephesians 5 jumped out at me this morning…particularly these bits…
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
And then later in verse 14;
This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
They’re all doing words not dying words.
Follow, walk, move, get up, WAKE UP.
I know sometimes it’s so much easier to play dead, to curl up and wait for the storm to pass (I’ve done it for years) but I’m starting to feel and realise, that quietly dying on the inside is no longer an appropriate response to threat or challenge.
I know that at times, life can feel utterly defeating. Stuff hits us hard, loss and stress smacks us to the point we’re not sure we can take any more. Sometimes we desperately need a rest, a break, a chance to find peace.
This isn’t about working ourselves into the ground without any rest though. Rest is important. But it is about refusing, whatever happens, on the inside, to not play dead, to not be defeated.
To keep that steely, fiery, Godly determination intact.
To not give up.
It’s time (for me at least) to stand up, be counted and to stop playing dead.