When Clubhouses Were Free

This weekend my kids "built" a clubhouse for themselves behind our garage. It is just little nook under a tree that they brought a camping mat to and put some things in the branches to make it feel homey. They dirtied themselves with the fun of having a clubhouse, their very own place to laugh and play.

It wasn't much of a clubhouse... it is what you might imagine the five and three-year-old architects/builders would assemble. But it is theirs. And for them, those moments in the clubhouse were free. Unencumbered by worry and without bills to pay. It reminded me of some of the forts and clubhouses I enjoyed as a kid. One in particular always comes to mind. It resided on an island in the creek of a neighborhood park. With my friends, we built an indestructible space with different floors and rooms for us. Indestructible until some other neighborhood kids found it and dismantled it! It was adventure, built with our own hands.

Nowadays, as grown-ups, clubhouses cost. Especially the really fun ones. But can we reclaim that same sense of adventure we had when everything was free and untainted by responsibility, burden, and brokenness? Even if not in our physical life, maybe our spiritual life? I sure hope so.

You see, somewhere along the way we stopped needing clubhouses. We stopped needing play. We learn that there was much to know and much to labor for. In fact, we learned that what was once free, now needed to be earned.

We do this with our thoughts of God too. We hear a great story of salvation and we have an ear-to-ear grin. But along the way, voices in the church and our culture begin to suggest we should go about earning this salvation, or more common, the gifts that come along with it. We weary, and it seems where there was once such wonderful laughter and play, there is now only begrudging dutiful behavior in the right direction. We have also begun to resent those that seem to be living in the free clubhouse.

This is my life. I hear, and even preach, the gospel. Jesus substituted himself for you. He saves, transforms and brings you all the way home to himself. Life is different and you live for different, truer things, but it remains a gift, it is still free. Somehow I listen to the accuser as he shouts that I am unworthy and if only I was a little more driven or talented then I would be something. Or if only I could get a handle on my sinful self... then the blessing would flow.

Over and over again Jesus is right there, inviting me into his clubhouse to chill. HIs call is a comforting "don't believe that mess, come and play." When I run after that, the clubhouse feels free again. And there is joy. Joy in him.

I want to answer that invitation more. I want to shoot down the accusations of the liar and defeat sin in my life. Because the more that happens, the more I have the same smile my kids have. Secure. Creative. And free to play.

Maybe today, in the face of the responsibility, the burden, and the brokenness, you need to answer the invitation to come and play. To come and rest. Do it. Run to Jesus. It is free and freeing. Let what he says about you define you and set the smile on your face. And let's build clubhouses together!


  1. I LOVE the word pictures and the analogy in your post, Jonathan. That's exactly what the Lord has been saying to me lately. Blackaby, in Unlimiting God, says we can't race in and out of His presence and expect a deep relationship with Him. :-)


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