Thoughts on Misplacing Life’s Instruction Manual.
Yesterday I organized a closet that needed cleaning years ago. A cluttered cabinet was repurposed to stack boxes of games hoarded over the decades when I raised four children in a now empty nest. It’s difficult to let go of these treasures: Scattergories, Stratego, Don’t Wake Up Daddy, and Guess Who. Not quite ready to let go of memories, I created storage space for games I will replay one day with the grandchildren I don’t even have yet.
In the chaos of reorganizing I discovered a set of discarded game instructions separated from its original game box.
The point of a game it to make it around the board as you follow the designated rules.
These days feel like a game. So many strategies. So many opinions. So many alternatives.
Even within the church there seems to be so many strategies and alternatives that those outside observing the “game” are disillusioned and even turned off.
Varied Versions of the Instruction Manual
Yesterday I lunched with a friend, one outside the church making observations to Christian responses to recent issues in recent days. She questioned the moves that have been made around the board. She is skeptical of the dissension and a toppling church framework implemented because of various interpretations of the believer’s instruction, manual, the Bible.
I gently remind her that the one who replaced these commandments, the laws given to point us toward God, is Jesus Christ himself. When we turn our focus away from the One who embodies the Word of God, the game plan deteriorates.
Our Christian faith is discouraging others from believing because we have discarded God’s original instruction manual or have been deceived into thinking the manual is not relevant.
Our Original Purpose
The old testament stories are the ground work for understanding the original purpose of our lives, beginning with Genesis. Our original purpose was to reflect the image of God.
“Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:6–7)
Here we see that God created you for his glory — created everything for his glory. This is the great overarching purpose for you and everything else.
The New Testament reflects the story of how the game is won. We have victory over the power of death by the work of Jesus on the cross.
On the board game of life, we sometimes neglect the instructions given to us in God’s word. We discard these instructions or come to think these instructions are archaic. No longer relevant.
So we make circles around the game board. Pass go. Roll the dice. Pick up a card that moves us five spaces back. We get discouraged when we fall backward and pump our fist in triumph when we have an opportunity to move ahead.
My favorite board game when I was a little girl was called Life. I loved spinning the wheel to move my little plastic car forward, adding the little pegs to grow my “family” and choosing card that would determine my path.
As a rule follower growing up, I was instilled from an early age to follow directions so there would not be punishment or consequence. To me, parameters were comforting.
In most games my strategy skills are terrible. I’m terrible at card games because I cannot remember who holds what card.
One game I am failing at miserably is the board game Catan. My son and his wife are patiently trying to teach me the strategy of this game. It is taking me a very long time to comprehend the intent and purpose of the game. I have not won one game yet.
Only Two Options for the Outcome
Real life is not a game. There are consequences to poor strategy. There are benefits to victory and opportunity. There are many options out there to choose to help us navigate life, and only two outcomes: Life or Death.
But there is one who prepared a way for us win over death. Jesus’ death on the cross made the way to victory.
If we believe that Jesus Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith, we realize in humility that his instructions for life are not meant to bind us or restrict us, but instead guide us into freedom. Into victory. For his death on the cross broke upon the way for all of us to triumph over the hold death has on us.
And the winner is…
I easily forget that Jesus Christ created the way for each of us to live in victory in this game called life. I give in to distraction or lose sight of my purpose. As I get older I more fully realize in this game there are two options. You live. You die. And the choice you make determines your final destination.
The winners will sit at the feet of him on the throne for eternity. All nations. All tongues. All languages. With Jesus, the One who won victory over death.
He left behind instructions for us to follow. These instructions were meant for us to live in freedom, not bondage. There is a longstanding string of stories that reflect the journey of our purpose.
Pick up the manual. Read it with fresh eyes. Remember the purpose of life.
Reference: John Piper, https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/whats-the-point-of-my-life