I’m not sure what my daughters have against me, but I’m convinced they’re trying to drive me crazy. Take the other day, for instance. They know how I feel about the Milton-Bradley game called Perfection. They know how competitive I am. They know that I let them play with it for about five minutes last Christmas before commandeering it so that I could master it myself. They know all this, yet they couldn’t resist messing with my head.
If you’ve never played Perfection, here’s the deal. You have to cram 25 oddly shaped plastic pieces into their matching holes on the game-board before the time runs out. I’m not just talking about circles and squares here. I’m talking about pentagons, octagons, squiggly lines and skewed trapezoids that look like they were made by a Geometry teacher on crack. Oh, and the pieces are tiny, molded for little kid fingers to manipulate but all the more challenging for an adult.
Even as I write these words I can still hear the hum of the Perfection timer mocking me, telling me that this game is quite literally child’s play, that even a six year-old should be able to complete the board with ease and that I’d better hurry because I only had seconds left to beat it. The clock was against me, but I persevered, deftly plugging the shapes into place like an old school telephone operator connecting her calls.
Yes, the clock was against me, but so were my daughters. I got down to the end of the shapes and realized that I still had two holes left – two holes, but no more pieces. I’d been set up. Betrayed by my own flesh and blood. Then, bam, the timer ended and triggered the board to pop up, ejecting all of my shapes into the air.
My girls erupted with laughter. They knew that no matter how hard I tried, I didn’t stand a chance. The game was rigged. My effort was pointless because they’d hidden two of my pieces. I could never win. I could never achieve perfection.
What a great metaphor for our lives. I can tell you from first-hand experience that the game of perfection is always rigged. No matter how hard we try to live a perfect life, no matter how much effort we put toward being good people, we inevitably blow it.
It’s because the deck is stacked. We’re all broken people living in a broken world. We’re usually either hurting other people or getting hurt ourselves. We’ve all got pieces missing. But the crazy thing is that there is this perfect God who wants to be friends with us anyway. Even crazier still is the fact that He’d be willing to die for it.
And in that act of love, Jesus began the process of putting the pieces back into place for anyone who wants to take Him up on it. Yeah, the game of perfection is always rigged, but the game of grace? Everyone walks away a winner.