Hello, David here. One fine day in the middle of the night myself and five of my good friends were playing the board game Life (also known as The Game Of Life). At the time we were poor students and we had little to amuse ourselves with on Saturday nights, so what better that a free rousing game of Life.
If you haven’t been fortunate to play this game let me give you a brief run down:
Originally created in 1860 by Milton Bradley, The Game of Life was America’s first popular parlor game. The game simulates a person’s travels through his or her life, from college to retirement, with jobs, marriage, and possible children along the way. Two to six players can participate in one game, however, variations of the game have been made to accommodate a maximum of only eight or ten players. It has a cool plastic spinning number wheel too.
So, one winter’s night five of us sat down huddled in the lounge of my good friend John’s drafty house. We began the game. Along with being a player I was also fortunate enough to be the elected banker. About half way through the game things weren’t really going my way. I had just lost my house, two kids, my wife had walked out on me, and my retirement plan has just been cashed up to pay out my wife. Not a true story – it was just part of the game. I was bored and rapidly losing interest so I began sneakily stealing money from the bank and giving other people money on the side. I didn’t give any to John, as he was winning and was displaying some serious smugness . John had recently acquired my house, including my wife and two kids and a generous retirement plan. Remember this is JUST a game it wasn’t real life, or so I thought. I was envious, jealous, and out for revenge and others were also after him as their life stories were equally sad and pathetic. Remember this is JUST a game.
In a scene reminiscent of something form Lord of the Flies, John discovered what I was up to – redistributing the wealth. In a fiery fit of rage he leapt to his feet, while at the same time sending the Life board spinning into the air, the plastic bits and funny money flew up into the air and landed in a mess on the floor. John exclaimed in my direction, “Get OUT of MY HOUSE, you thief, you evildoer, you spawn of Satan!” “Steady on old chap, it’s ONLY a game, keep your hair on!” I replied in a soothing voice, as John was very bald. Everyone else was silent with their mouths wide open at John’s fiery tirade. He was very serious and he wouldn’t back down.
Not knowing quite what to do I left, as he stood holding the front door open with a stern look on his face. “Same time next week then?” I suggested. Again, silence.
While I walked home alone, I reflected on the night’s events and how I began a friendly game of life and then had somehow turned into the spawn of Satan. I brushed it off. I knew that John was quite competitive and I also knew had board games can bring out the best but usually the worst in people. John rang me the following morning and apologized profusely for his outburst and apologized to the group the following weekend we we met for a game of monopoly. I was not elected banker.
Why is it that our own life gets in the way of what God calls us to do and be? Why do we get distracted and turn friendship into war? How is it that the trivial injustices in our world escalate rapidly into situations that end up on the front page of the newspaper? What is that all about?
Jesus died on the cross to offer us a chance at eternal life. All we need to do is believe – just believe.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
~ John 3:16
Notice that Jesus only asks us to believe and we will receive eternal life. We often complicate life (here and now and for all eternity) by the games we play. We all play the games and we all get what we deserve. We have missed something. Something so simple and so beautiful. What is it? Grace – God’s grace. It is what we are saved by, not by game playing and posturing. We don’t need to play any more games of life. Jesus came to give us life in abundance.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ~ John 10:10
So what about you my friend? What games are you playing? Are you overcomplicating life? Whether you are destitute or a millionaire, or anyway in between, Jesus’ message is the same – through grace you are saved, and not by works (or games). Will you take a moment to share your story, here or somewhere this week? It may just help someone pack up their game and get real.
If all the world’s a stage
And the men and women merely players
Then – how do we play
And have we won or lost?
Who sets the game plan
And selects the teams?
Is it the luck of the draw
Or do we draw from something else?
In the game we call life
Who ends up destitute?
And who becomes the millionaire
Just by throwing the dice?
Whether life is a game or a production
Milton Bradley and Shakespeare
Would probably agree
That the game of life is
Never called off on
Account of darkness