Authored by Marie Story
I’m a big Tetris fan. The reason I like it so much is that I can plan it all out by looking at the pieces that will come up next, and as they come down, I can fit them all in place evenly and lower the stack. At least, that’s the idea.
Even better than that is solving the mistakes I make. Sometimes I plunk a piece down right in the wrong spot, then I have to figure out how to work around that mistake to get rid of the problem spot. I love the feeling of accomplishment as lines disappear and my score racks up.
It doesn’t always work out like that, though. Yeah, I do great for the first few levels, but as things speed up and pieces are dropping faster and faster, I can’t control them as well anymore. Pieces end up in the wrong places, and the stack gets closer and closer to the top.
Soon enough, “GAME OVER” is blinking on the screen, and my excitement for the game is tinged with frustration.
Sometimes life can feel like that. We make one mistake after the next, and suddenly it seems like there is nothing we can do to fix things. Sometimes even our best plans end up in a mess, and no matter what we try or how we maneuver things, problems pile up and it feels like the game is over.
But do you know the best thing about a game like Tetris? There’s always a chance to play again. It doesn’t matter how many times you lose; you’ve always got a fresh start when you want it.
That’s what Jesus does for us. He knows we’re not perfect. He understands our limitations and weaknesses. He designed us, and He understands that we can’t “win” every time.
Jesus has promised to remove our mistakes and sins “as far as the east is from the west.”1 That means they’re gone—we’ve got a clean slate—and we can start over. And this doesn’t just apply to your spiritual life. No matter how well you try to plan out your life, there will come times when you’ll need to start all over.
Perhaps you’ve invested time in certain goals and suddenly things have changed. You’ve put a lot of time, thought, and energy into something you thought was the way to go, but now everything’s different and you’ve got to start from scratch. When that happens, it can be discouraging. All you can see is that big “GAME OVER” sign blinking in your mind.
But after the game is over, there’s always a chance to play again.
A clean slate is an awesome thing. It means the past is done and gone. When you start a new game of Tetris, it won’t refuse you the chance to play again if you’ve lost one too many times. It just gives you a fresh game, no questions asked. When Jesus gives you a clean slate, it’s really a clean slate. He’s not looking back at your past record of mistakes and failings. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”2
You’ve probably heard the saying “where there’s life, there’s hope.” That’s what I’m talking about here: as long as you’re alive and you keep “playing,” as long as you keep getting up and trying again, there’s always hope, there’s always a fresh start, and sooner or later you’re gonna win.
When we think of the heroes in the Bible, we don’t often remember that many of them were major screw-ups who had made huge mistakes.
Moses’ life is pretty much a study in failure and mistakes. His life is presented in 40-year segments with not much detail in between. It seems there wasn’t a whole lot going on in the first 80 years of his life, and I bet he must have felt like a failure pretty often.
For the first 40 years he’s a prince in Egypt, which sounds cool, but he’s got a questionable bloodline. Fail. Then he kicks off the second 40 years by trying to be a hero but instead kills someone and has to flee for his life. From there he sits around a desert watching sheep. Fail.
You can just imagine what must have been going through his mind: probably something along the lines of “GAME OVER.” He probably figured that he was destined to sit around staring at sheep for the rest of his life. But God had a plan for him and his “game” was by no means over.
Practically everything major in Moses’ life happened after he was 80!—Then POW! Bring down the ten plagues on the Egyptians. Part the Red Sea. Pray for food and get manna and quail dropping from the sky. Receive commandments written by God’s own hand. Smack a rock and get enough water to satisfy thousands of thirsty people and animals. And that’s just some of the big stuff!
But imagine if Moses hadn’t bothered trying one more time. Imagine if he ignored the chance for a “new game” and decided that it just wasn’t worth trying again. I mean, at 80 years old you really couldn’t blame him. But when God offered the opportunity for service, Moses went for it, and God used him.
Do you feel like you’ve royally screwed things up, and that there’s no way to make things better? Or have your plans gone up in smoke, and you don’t know how to start rebuilding? Or are you just discouraged because your first few attempts have gone nowhere and you don’t know if you even want to try again? Remember that you’ve always got a chance to start a new game. Jesus has a plan and a goal for your life, and He’ll use even the mistakes you make to bring you closer to that goal.
King Solomon tells us that a righteous man falls seven times and gets back up.3 There’s no way around falling. It’s getting up and starting again that matters.
1 Psalm 103:12.
2 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV.
3 Proverbs 24:16.
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright © 2012 by The Family International