When our boys were in middle school we gave them a croquet set. At first they seemed a little disappointed—croquet? How boring. Then we actually started playing and they discovered strategy, like whacking your opponent completely out of bounds with one of your free shots. Now that was fun.
We have settled down to annual games during the holidays whenever we get together. It is the perfect way to let the turkey digest, and we usually wind up playing two or three times. But that time of year means a less than clear playing field on what is already a rollercoaster lawn. Our yard, you see, isn’t exactly a lawn. It’s an old watermelon field, and though the rows have settled somewhat after thirty years, we still have low spots, gopher holes, ant hills, and armadillo mounds. But in the fall we also have sycamore leaves the size of paper plates, pine cones, piles of Spanish moss, and cast off twigs from the windy fronts that come through every few days between October and March. You cannot keep it cleaned up if you want to do something besides yard work with your life. So when you swing your mallet, no matter how carefully you have aimed, you never really know where your ball will end up. We call it “ultimate croquet.” Anyone who is used to a tabletop green lawn would be easy pickings for one of us—even me, the perennial loser.
All those “hazards” make for an interesting game of croquet, but let me tell you something. I have learned the hard way that an interesting life is not that great. I have dug ditches in a flooding rainstorm, cowered over my children during a tornado, prayed all night during a hurricane, climbed out of a totaled car, followed an ambulance all the way to the hospital, hugged a seizing baby in my lap as we drove ninety down country roads to the doctor’s office, bandaged bullet wounds, hauled drinking water and bath water for a month, signed my life away before experimental surgeries—well, you get the picture. Give me dull and routine any day.
Dull and routine is exactly what Paul told Timothy to pray for. I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Tim 2:1-5.
Did you catch that? Pray that our leaders will do what is necessary for us to have a “tranquil and quiet life” so that all men can “come to a knowledge of the truth.” God’s ministers cannot preach the gospel in a country where everyone is in hiding or running in terror from the enemy, where you never have enough security to sit down with a man and discuss something spiritual for an hour or so, where you wonder how you will feed your family that night, let alone the next day. The Pax Romana was one of the reasons the gospel could spread—peace in the known world. That along with the ease of travel because every country was part of the same empire and a worldwide language made the first century “the fullness of times” predicted in the prophets.
I don’t have much sympathy for people who are easily bored, who seem to think that life must always be exciting or it isn’t worth living. I am here to tell you that excitement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And God gave us plenty to do during those dull, routine times. It’s called serving others and spreading the Word. If you want some excitement, try that. It’s even better than Ultimate Croquet.
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 1 Thes 4:9-11.