How many times have we heard someone describe life as a game? Even Mother Teresa has been ascribed this quote. There are dozens of internet memes that start with “Life is a game…” and then finish with a line that says a lot about the quoted person.
“Life is a game, play it.” Mother Teresa
“Life is a game; money is how you keep score.” Ted Turner
“Life is a game; you can be a player or a toy.” Unknown
I guess my problem with comparing our lives on this Earth with a game, is the knowledge that every game has a winner and a loser. How can someone judge that someone else is a loser at life? Do we measure life’s winners with success, fame, and fortune? With the power and influence they wield? How exactly do we determine when we are winning at life?
I will admit to being a pretty competitive, yet un-athletic person. The few sports I played well, I played with undue aggression to make up for the natural talent I was lacking. My shoulder still aches from the years of tennis I played. I remember when my grandfather, a great tennis player himself, sat me down and talked to me about the ferocity of my strokes. “Tennis isn’t just about power, it’s about finesse.” “Don’t kill the ball with every stroke, lighten up and enjoy the game.” Whenever I remembered those words, my play would improve.
But how do you lighten up and enjoy the game of life when everything we see drives us to be better or richer or greater than other people? Perhaps the game analogy is wrong. In 2 Timothy 4:7-8, Paul states “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who crave His appearing.” Maybe life is a race and the only competitor in our heat is ourselves.
My son runs marathons, for fun! I used to think it took a special kind of crazy to run 26.2 miles for fun, and then I started driving him to his events. The people that we have met over the years at the runs are an interesting breed. Of course, there are those that are striving to be the fastest in their given category, but for the most part, they run for the joy of running. When my son was 15, he finished his first marathon. His 4 hour and 44-minute time wasn’t one for the record books, but he didn’t care. Throughout the race, he said he was encouraged by total strangers to complete what he had started. One gentleman ran along beside him and talked him through the last several miles of the race, encouraging him reach the goal of a strong finish. Every subsequent marathon he has run has resulted in faster times and similar stories. He has run each race more confidence and greater endurance.
Everyone has their own race to run while they are on this world. I can’t compare where I am or how I am doing against anyone else. Nor can I judge someone else’s journey by the one I am on. Jesus is the measuring stick I must use. If I am doing what I am called to do, running this race with integrity and honor, I am winning.
Games are supposed to be fun, but they can also be tense, and, at times, too competitive. And someone always loses. I realize that races have winners as well, but even the last one to cross the finish line in the marathon gets a rousing round of applause from the spectators. Sometimes the joy of the journey and finishing strong are the true measures of success. Knowing that everyone in the human race that seeks Jesus and craves his appearing receives a crown causes me to rejoice when they achieve. I don’t have to compete with anyone, my race is my own.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, and a part-time basket case who wants to be a full time writer.