I Can't Win - September 8, 2018
James Collins

“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

Sometimes you just can’t win. Take carnival games for example. Many years ago, when my wife, Amanda, and I were courting, the carnival came to our hometown. They had games that were rigged that made it nearly impossible to win the prize. They had basketball with a hoop so small that it was almost unattainable to get the ball into it. They had a milk bottle pyramid game with the bottom pins filled with lead, making it extremely difficult to knock them all over. They had a ring toss game where the rings were just a hair wider than the neck of the bottle and it was futile to even play that game.

Now I knew that those games were rigged. However, I wanted to impress Amanda. I wanted to win my sweetheart a giant stuffed bear. So I decided to play the balloon dart throw. I had a dart board at home. I figured that with my skill and ability, I could outsmart them. I watched a couple of people play the game. I could see that the balloons were underinflated. I noticed that the dart tips were dulled. Since I had that knowledge, there was no way that I could lose.

I told Amanda, “I’m going to win you that giant bear.” She said, “James, don’t be silly. That game is rigged. I don’t need that bear.” I said, “I’m a grown man. I know what I’m doing.” She kept on. She said, “Don’t waste your money. If you want to get me a stuffed bear, just buy me one at Walmart. It will be cheaper in the long run.” I said, “It wouldn’t be the same. Besides, I won’t lose.” She tried to stop me, but I would not be stopped.

The carnie working the balloon dart throw really looked the part. He was as skinny as a rail. He had a black, pencil thin, moustache. His hair was short on the top and long in the back. He had an incredible mullet. He was wearing dirty jeans and a Guns & Roses t-shirt. He smiled at me, his front teeth were gold. He smiled at me and said, “Young man, that is an incredibly beautiful woman with you there. She is so hot that you need an asbestos suit to hug her!” Amanda giggled and blushed. He was a smooth talker. I was going to have to keep my eye on him. He said, “Sir, are you man enough to win your lady a prize?” He had challenged my manhood. I was more determined to win Amanda that bear.

I threw down a dollar. He handed me three darts. I threw the first dart. I missed. I threw the second dart. I missed. I threw the third dart. I missed. I threw down another dollar. I lost again. I threw down another dollar. I lost again. This went on for quite a while. I kept on losing and shelling out more money.

Finally, I won! I was so thrilled. I won! I hollered and jumped up and down. I won! I handed Amanda the giant bear. I won! I felt like a hero. I won! I showed that carnie. I won, and it only cost me $82.00…for a stuffed bear that cost about fifty cents to produce! Sometimes you just can’t win.

The point is: There are a lot of pursuits in life that are not worth winning. You might strive for success, money, position, or possessions but lose everything that’s truly valuable in the process. Don’t strive to win a worldly victory that will end up making you lose your family, your marriage, your peace, your intimacy, and life with God. Give up that empty pursuit, and find your peace with God…or you could end up paying $82.00 to win a stuffed animal that’s only worth fifty cents. Put aside any pursuit that is not of God and is fruitless. Pursue Him.

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