I am admitting to something that happened eons ago, but I suppose confession is good for the soul. During the 1972 Canada-Russia hockey series I (along with my friends, Jean and Tanya) smuggled our transistor radios into math class and under the pretense of looking extremely studious during the class, we were in fact paying much closer attention to our radios listening to Foster Hewitt’s play by-play of the historic games, than listening to our Math teacher drone on about integers. I suppose you could call it playing hooky while still being physically in the class. I remember I had expertly concealed my headphone under my long hair. Mr. Ruxton, our math teacher, bless his heart, turned a blind eye to the perceived ruse we thought we were perpetrating in his class. It was only when a goal was scored and all three of us jumped up and cheered, without realizing we were still in class, that Mr. Ruxton frowned and then laughed at us when I said as an explanation for the outburst, “We are so EXCITED for math!” He shook his head while the rest of the class giggled “busted!” and then he motioned for us to show him our radios. We sheepishly obliged and then he asked, “What’s the score?” I hated math but I loved Mr. Ruxton at that moment!
The next time I played hooky was during my second year of university. I had enrolled in a linguistics class at the University of Victoria. It was an elective course required towards getting my teaching degree. It seemed EVERY second year education student had heard that this was a “gimme” class (meaning you only needed to attend, write the final and rarely did anyone fail this particular class). 140 students packed a small classroom the first day to hear a professor with even less personality than the teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off give his eighty minute lectures. If you arrived late, you had to lean against the back wall for the entire ordeal. After three lectures, I was looking for ANY excuse to drop the course, unfortunately I needed the course to get into my practicum year. On the way to the fourth lecture, my fiance and his ne’er-do-well friend, Mike, waylaid me en route to the class and asked if I would like to join them for coffee at the Student Union Building. They were in between classes and had a couple of hours before they had to be back. I didn’t need much convincing, so for the next twelve weeks, I never attended another linguistic class, choosing instead to meet Mike and Charles for coffee.
Now kids (my kids especially), I don’t recommend this as an acceptable way to pass a course. In fact, I am slightly ashamed of myself…slightly…
Leading up to the final for that course, having only attended three lectures, I spent a horrific, stressful weekend “cramming” for the exam by reading every linguistic book written by that professor. (If his lectures were boring, his text books were equally so.) I nearly cried when they put the test paper in front of me, knowing I was so unprepared. So no one was more shocked than I was when I actually passed the course! I was ecstatic until I heard that everyone else had scored an “A”. Apparently one little essay question worth about 20% (one I left blank) was based entirely on a lecture he had given in the eighth week. Knowing I had the chance to raise my grade point average significantly with that mark and instead I opted to play hooky, made me a little weepy. A missed opportunity lost forever.
For some, going to church is not a priority in their lives, but for our family it is. When my husband and I got married, we made the decision to plant ourselves in a church family and attend our home church every Sunday. Certainly there have been Sundays missed over the years due to illness or holiday, but for the most part, we have worshipped regularly in our home church on Sunday mornings. It has become an integral part of our life. My three children grew up in our church. From their days in nursery to College and Career our kids have been involved with the church. Our church family has become as dear to us as our blood family, and in some ways we are more connected to some of them because we see them more often than we do our own family members who live so far away. It was my church family that ministered to me when I went through breast cancer. It was their daily visits and prayers that sustained me. I know that I can call on any number of them for anything and they will be there. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ, and our bond is that close!
Still there are some Sundays I will admit (I’m still confessing…) that I would much, much rather stay in bed and sleep in. As much as I love getting together with my church brothers and sisters, there are some Sundays I’d just rather curl up at home and play hooky. Especially on those bitterly cold days we have in the winter months here in Alberta. I would rather not get out of bed, get dressed, put on makeup, get bundled up to get into a cold car and drive to church. The temptation to play hooky is great! Oh and of course, let’s not forget those summer months too. I know it’s necessary to make the most of summer because it is sooooo short a season here in Alberta but I noticed a sign on a neighbouring church the other day that read “Enjoy the summer, we’re closed until September”. I suppose they figured it was better to close up for the summer rather than face empty church pews each Sunday while their congregants were on holidays.
Seems like a great idea…or is it?
When I read something like that it only adds fuel to all my other excuses for trying to rationalize my need to play hooky from church.
“Honey, you go. I’ll have lunch waiting for you when you get home.” or “It’s a big church, certainly no one will even notice I’m not there today.” or “I’ve been in church every Sunday since Christmas…”
Yeah, after a while the excuses start to get pretty lame.
So then I decide to bargain a bit.
“How about if we stay home today, and I’ll make it up to God by reading the Bible more next week.” (Oh, I forgot, I’ve been playing hooky from Bible reading for a while too… eeeeek!)
It is just about at that moment a light bulb goes on over my head and I realize that I need to check my heart condition. Usually when I wanted to play hooky from something, it’s because my heart wasn’t in it in the first place. In the case of my math class…well a hockey game took precedence over algebra. To be honest ANYTHING could take precedence over a math class :) My heart was definitely not into suffering through boring lectures in linguistics, but as I have told my kids throughout their school years, sometimes you’ve “got to do, what you’ve got to do” for the greater good. Too bad I didn’t listen to my own advice way back then.
When it comes to spiritual things, including wanting to attend church (or not) or keeping up with Bible readings, or daily devotions etc., if I am considering playing hooky from these things, it’s because my heart just isn’t into it. There can be numerous reasons for this.
1. Sin – the enemy has gotten a foothold somewhere in my life and I’m not willing to acknowledge it.
2. Spiritual Warfare – the enemy is attacking me knowing that if I “follow God with all my mind, heart and strength” he will not have access to me.
3. My heart has lost interest. A serious illness that needs immediate attention to find the root cause. (Usually it has to do with self taking control of my actions instead of allowing God to have control.)
For some people, this malaise can last a day, a week, a year, or a lifetime, and when I start seeing and feeling the symptoms in me, I know I need to check my heart health immediately.
Recently I had a disturbing conversation with someone close to me who said they were “taking a break from God for awhile”. How do you even do that? I understand wanting to play hooky from church but from God? I pondered on what the ramifications would be if the situation was reversed and God decided that He was going to “take a break from us for awhile”. What if God played hooky from us?
“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” (Matt. 13:15)