I’m writing this week’s meditation a couple of days before the beginning of the Coastal Carolina Fair. Over the next week and a half, people from across the South Carolina Lowcountry will flock to the fairgrounds – some of them putting off paying a few bills so that they’ll have “Fair money” – for grandstand entertainment, rides and games, and “fair food” that we never eat at any other time of the year.
Tens of thousands of people will go to the Fair, but only a fraction of them will check out the arts and crafts, farm product and livestock exhibits. State and County Fairs were created in the mid-1800’s to promote agriculture, and carnivals were added later as American society became less agricultural and more urban. In theory, the Fair is still supposed to promote agriculture, but in fact and in advertising and promotion, the emphasis is on having fun.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with having fun – I’m going to the Fair and, although I’m not much of a “ride” enthusiast anymore, I’m looking forward to the festive fairground atmosphere and a humongous Italian sausage dog smothered in peppers and onions with greasy fries and a big Coke! I’ll also visit the exhibit halls, though, as a reminder of the real purpose of the Fair.
What applies to the Fair is similar to what applies to our faith. Many people come out to enjoy worship, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we remember the real essence of faith. Worship should be enjoyable and inspirational, but real faith goes beyond weekly worship. Real faith leads to a solid relationship with God that sustains us when fear and frustration replace fun in our lives and gives us the assurance that we never have to face life alone. Real faith leads us to enjoy worship, but to also be regularly involved in the family of God through things like Bible study and ministry activities. Real faith goes beyond the enjoyment of worship and directs our lives each and every day.
Take the time to enjoy life – Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” Take the time as well, however, to count your blessings and return thanks to God by exercising your faith in your daily life. Doing so may initially seem like work, but it actually leads to new and fulfilling joy that comes not through temporary fun, but through enduring faith.