Walking in His Will, Part 6

The Will of God-1Psalm 40:8, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

Ephesians 6:6, Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.

Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

“This is our predicament. Over and over again, we lose sight of what is important and what isn’t.” – Epictetus

Before concluding this series on Walking in His Will, I thought I would take one post to share a powerful story that I have used many times in the past to illustrate the important truth that most of the things that we find ourselves living for on this side of eternity have little value. This story can be found in the book called, When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back In The Box (John Ortberg).

Monopoly-1My grandmother had just gotten out of jail. She was a roll away from the yellow properties. And the yellow properties meant trouble. They were mine. And they had hotels. And Gram had no money. She had wanted to stay in jail longer to avoid landing on my property and having to cough up dough she did not have, but she rolled doubles, and that meant her bacon was going to get fried. I was a ten-year-old sitting at the Monopoly table. I had it all—money and property, houses and hotels, Boardwalk and Park Place. I had been a loser at this game my whole life, but today was different, as I knew it would be. Today I was Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Ivan the Terrible. Today my grandmother was one roll of the dice away from ruin. And I was one roll of the dice away from the biggest lesson life has to teach: the absolute necessity of arranging our life around what matters in light of our mortality and eternity. It is a lesson that some of the smartest people in the world forget but that my grandmother was laser clear on. For my grandmother taught me how to play the game. … 

Monopoly -2Grandmother was at her feistiest when it came to Monopoly. Periodically leaders like General Patton or Attila the Hun develop a reputation for toughness. They were lapdogs next to her. Imagine that Vince Lombardi had produced an offspring with Lady MacBeth, and you get some idea of the competitive streak that ran in my grandmother. She was a gentle and kind soul, but at the Monopoly table she would still take you to the cleaners. When I got the initial $1,500 from the banker to start the game, I always wanted to hang on to my money as long as possible. You never know what Chance card might turn up next. The board is a risky place. I am half Swedish (on my father’s side), and Swedes are not high rollers. But my grandmother knew how to play the game. She understood that you don’t win without risk, and she didn’t play for second place. So she would spend every dollar she got. She would buy every piece of property she landed on. She would mortgage every piece of property she owned to the hilt in order to buy everything else. She understood what I did not—that accumulating is the name of the game, that money is how you keep score, that the race goes to the swift. She played with skill, passion, and reckless abandon. Eventually, inevitably, she would become Master of the Board. When you’re the Master of the Board, you own so much property that no one else can hurt you. When you’re Master of the Board, you’re in control. Other players regard you with fear and envy, shock and awe. From that point on, it’s only a matter of time. She would watch me land on Boardwalk one time too many, hand over to her what was left of my money, and put my little race car marker away, all the time wondering why I had lost yet again. “Don’t worry about it,” she’d say. “One day you’ll learn to play the game.” I hated it when she said that.

Then one year when I was ten, I spent a summer playing Monopoly every day with a kid named Steve who lived kitty-corner from me. Gradually it dawned on me that the only way to win this game was to make a total commitment to acquisition. No mercy. No fear. What my grandmother had been showing me for so long finally sank in. By the fall, when we sat down to play, I was more ruthless than she was. Box-1My palms were sweaty. I would play without softness or caution. I was ready to bend the rules if I had to. Slowly, cunningly, I exposed the soft underbelly of my grandmother’s vulnerability. Relentlessly, inexorably, I drove her off the board. (The game does strange things to you.) I can still remember—it happened at Marvin Gardens. I looked at my grandmother—this was the woman who had taught me how to play. She was an old lady by now. A widow. She had raised my mother. She loved my mother, as she loved me. And I took everything she had. I destroyed her financially and psychologically. I watched her give up her last dollar and quit in utter defeat. It was the greatest moment of my life. I had won. I was cleverer, and stronger, and more ruthless than anyone else at the table. I was Master of the Board. But then my grandmother had one more thing to teach me. The greatest lesson comes at the end of the game. And here it is. In the words of James Dobson, who described this lesson from Monopoly in playing with his family many years ago: “Now it all goes back in the box.” All those houses and hotels. All that property—Boardwalk and Park Place, the railroads and the utility companies. All those thousands of dollars. When the game is over, it all goes back in the box!

Folks, it’s for this reason that it is vitally important that we find, follow, and finish the will of God for our lives. Because everything else goes back in the box. It is for this reason that we must not become enamored, distracted, and detoured, from doing that which is eternal; that which we can sent ahead of us or bring with us to the other side of eternity, rather than living for that which goes back in the box!

Box-2Just reflecting on living for and doing that which has eternal consequences!!!


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