Ready for Some Fresh Air?

“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”~Paul (a Fourth-Grader in San Diego)
I love the Summer.  Warm sunny days, walks with my wife, barbecue, watermelon, ice cream, television, a variety of fresh fruits & vegetables, outdoor sports & recreation, butterflies, vibrant greenery, the sweet fragrances of lilacs & honeysuckle, gorgeous sunsets, Nintendo, red dew-covered roses, fishing, family gatherings and the list could go on.
Quick trivia question: which items seem out of place?
Unfortunately, for many kids today, TV, video games and other forms of media are robbing them of the simple, imaginative childhood they’re naturally wired for.  And it’s not just kids.
A recent study by A.C. Nielsen revealed that the average American adult watches nearly 5 hours of television per day.  Those over the age of 55 average nearly 6 hours per day.  My own grandparents would actually be above average in this category.  In all my visits to their house over the years, I can’t remember a single time when a television wasn’t on.  Grandma in one room watching the 700 Club and grandpa in another room watching anything sports.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly watched my fair share of the Tube over my lifetime.  But there’s been something refreshingly liberating over this past year since my wife Shelley & I decided to box up the TV.  Among other things, we have more time to enjoy the magnificent outdoor artwork of our extraordinarily creative God.  He’s the Master Artist.
A Breath of Fresh Air
I recently heard about a program called The Fresh Air Fund that was started in 1877 by a non-profit organization. Their goal was to introduce disadvantaged children living in the inner cities to the “great outdoors”. The program was started in New York to benefit the city’s youth. A man, by the name of Reverend Parsons asked his parishioners to volunteer to host inner city youth for a time away in the country. They agreed and The Fresh Air Fund was born. The program still flourishes today, offering a choice of five camps in upstate New York for the city’s children to enjoy time away and learn about country life.
Power In Unplugging
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in Luke 5:16.  “…Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”  In our noisy world I find this concept incredibly liberating.  Jesus saw the importance of “unplugging” from all the noise that a typical day brings.  As followers of Jesus, we must also see the importance of literally unplugging from our media sources on a regular basis.  This could be for a day, a week, a month or even a lifetime.
When I was growing up in the Summers of Myrtle Creek, Oregon I would often cool off at our local public swimming pool.  During a typical swim the lifeguard would blow the whistle from time to time and ask everyone to get out.  This allowed the lifeguard to take a 10 minute break from the sun, get a snack and use the restroom.  During that break the water would go from chaotic and stirred up to calm & glassy.  I’ve often thought that’s a great picture of what happens to a person on the inside when they choose to ‘withdraw to the wilderness for prayer.’  Over a period of time we begin to sense our spirit calming as the chaos & noise of our world slowly ebbs out.
In the words of a friend of mine, “An adventure awaits when you simply get off the couch and walk out your front door.”
Are you ready for some fresh air?