When you were younger, did you play Monopoly for hours on end? It’s not uncommon to play one game for a couple of days. As kids, we took breaks to eat and do other things like sleep. But a two-day game of Monopoly was not uncommon. I haven’t played in years, but some of you might still do that from time to time.
A lot of board games are imitations of life. In fact, one of them was named “Life.” Monopoly was no exception. We did things like pay rent, buy homes, and even went bankrupt. Going belly-up was a lot more fun when the monetary loss was play money.
“Do not pass go, do not collect $200.”
The best fun, of course, was when someone would land on the Chance Square and pull a card. You never knew what was going to happen when you had to take a Chance. The best fun was when someone else pulled the card that said, “Go to Jail; go directly to jail; do not pass Go; do not collect $200.” I loved it when someone else got that baby.
But, like many things in life, there was a simple remedy for that situation (if you were lucky enough to have it). That remedy was a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card. It was like gold. If matters were going right for you, you could sell it to the highest bidder. That was especially true if there were a couple people in jail who needed desperately to get out.
“Every one of us is spiritually bankrupt.”
I suppose the game of life (the real one) is like that. We’re always looking for an easy way out. Depending on what we’ve gotten ourselves into, the exit is not always so simple. For example, bankruptcy in real life is not as easy as it sounds. It involves attorneys, courts, and government regulations. Need I say more?
It’s also true in real life that every one of us is spiritually bankrupt. We land in a sort of spiritual morass with nowhere to go and no one to which we can turn. It’s like we took a chance card that said, “Go to hell; go directly to hell; do not pass Go; do not collect $200.” We find ourselves like King David who sinned and cornered himself into a place of no return. His only recourse at that point was to throw himself on the mercy of God (see Psalm 51).
All of us need to do the same. Our get-out-of-jail-free card is blood stained. The card isn’t really free at all. It was paid in full by the blood of Jesus. It’s only free to us because he then turns around and offers it to us as a gift. I guess that’s why they call it amazing grace.
A few days ago, I sat and listened to a beautiful rendition of Miserere Mei Deus (Psalm 51 set to music). It’s ancient—written in the 1600’s. I invite you to listen to it and think about the blood stained get-out-of-jail-free card that’s been extended to you.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]