After several uninterrupted hours of spring break tech time, we asked our kids to please put away the iPads and do something else--something without a screen!
So as my mom and I chopped vegetables for stir-fry in the kitchen, my husband played the board game “LIFE” with our kids in the dining room.
I have my own childhood memories of playing this game. The rainbow spinner, the plastic vehicles, the tiny pink and blue people pegs. I remember that I didn’t like to play it often because it was such a long game (like Monopoly), but I could still recall the famous jingle from that 80’s commercial, “You can be a winner in the game of LIFE!”
As we diced onions, peppers, and beef in the kitchen, we could overhear bits and pieces of the game being played in the next room. Simulated lives were chosen. Each player selected their own career path, home, and family.
My son was able to fulfill his dream job of becoming a police officer. He lived in an apartment and had twin babies. One boy and one girl.
My daughter joined the entertainment business, lived in a condo, and had one child--a girl.
My husband went to college to become an accountant, lived in a log cabin, and chose to be a double income-no kids family.
At the end of the game, my husband read aloud the last part of the rules . . . “How to Win--After all players have retired, everyone counts up their money. The player with the highest dollar amount wins.”
“WHAT!??!” I shouted from the kitchen. “Seriously, this is how you WIN in the game of LIFE?”
I know, I know. You may be thinking, “Calm down Sarah. It’s just a board game.” But this last piece of the rules really disturbed me. I understand there has to be a gauge to determine a winner--but what kind of message does this send to kids?
My mom and I started shouting into the dining room . . . “What about the measurement of Spiritual fruit developed? Does the game take into consideration the quality of life the person lived, instead of just the quantity of money earned? How about positive impact on the lives of others?”
Well, obviously my husband “won.” He went to college, worked in a career handling money, and saved income by not having any kids. “WINNER”. . . according to Milton Bradley.
Believe it or not, this game was actually created in 1860. It has a fascinating history behind it. Google it.
The original game did include spots on the board to land on positive character traits: Influence, Honor, Happiness, Honesty, Truth, Perseverance, Ambition, Bravery.
On the flip side, the game board also included dark spaces: Disgrace, Poverty, Ruin, Crime, Prison, Gambling, Idleness, Intemperance (greed/overindulgence), and Suicide. How morbidly crazy is that?! (Suddenly I felt a little bit better about the 21st-century version.)
Thankfully real life is not played like this board game, and we do not “WIN” with the rules set forth by Milton Bradley.
Here are some of Paul’s final words to Timothy near the end of his life:
“As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8 NLT)
Paul did not calculate the sum total of his career, house, family, and bank account. Instead, he mentions the mission--his spiritual purpose. As he approached the end of life, he spoke about faithfulness and perseverance in his calling. Although this worth cannot be measured on earth, it will be eternally rewarded in heaven.
The board game of LIFE only has room for one winner. However, heaven holds a prize spot for a multitude of race participants--all believers are WINNERS!