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Monday, May 30, 2016

The Cost of Winning

Ecclesiastes 2:11, "Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun" (NIV).

Sometimes I think to myself, "Wow, self, you are way too negative!"  Then I read Ecclesiastes, and I reconsider.  I mean, at least I'm in good company, right?

Galatians 1:15-16, "But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being" (NIV).

Matthew 13:44, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field" (NIV).

Here's the thing: nothing that you or I can achieve on our own is going to count for anything in the end.  This is a very hard teaching for me to accept, because I like achieving.

Yesterday, I was playing with toy airplanes with my four year old nephew, Noah.  Mostly, I got to be the "bad guy airplane", which was just fine with me.  We battled and raced, and in the end, the "good guy airplane" would take me out, and Noah would say, "I win!  One more time!"  I quickly learned that, "one more time," in Noah's world, actually meant that we were going to play airplane battles until we died.  I should not tell you about the moment when I was crawling up and down the living room floor, racing, and losing badly, when my fourteen year old daughter looked at me and said, "Mom, I don't think you know what you've gotten yourself into."

At some point, we switched planes, and I thought to myself, "Surely I will win now, since I have the 'good guy airplane'".  It's been a little while since I have had a four year old boy.  It seems that I had forgotten how this works.  Even as the "good guy", I lost.  So I said, "Noah!  The good guy is supposed to win!"  And Noah just laughed as he informed me, "I like to win."  I paused for a moment before acknowledging that this child certainly belongs in this family.  We all like to win.  Sometimes at any expense.  And frankly, sometimes the cost is far more than a good guy/bad guy airplane battle.

I was going somewhere with this...

Oh yes, Paul...

A Pharisee, best of the best...  And then God calls, and Paul is on his way, preaching to the Gentiles, without even asking!

And this guy in the parable that Jesus tells...

He sells all his stuff and buys a field, and only he knows the value.

I just can't imagine any of this goes over well.  It costs everything.  Paul's friends must count this a huge loss.  The field guy's family must think he's crazy!  This is upside down thinking, but Kingdom values almost always are.

Don't get me wrong.  Winning is great, but sometimes losing is better.  Sometimes what looks like losing is actually the big win, in the long run. 


PS  There was this one brief moment when Noah looked at me and said, "We both win!"  I told him that I love games like that best.  Then he went on to beat the life out of my airplane over and over again...

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