My Life as a Game of Whac-A-Mole

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Have you ever played the classic arcade game called Whac-A-Mole? It’s the game where you are given a hammer and a time limit, and every time a plastic mole pops out of one of several holes in the machine, you have to whack it back down. The more moles you whack down within the given time limit, the higher your score will be.

Do you ever feel like your life is like that game? No matter how desperately hard you try to whack all the moles down and keep them down, another one inevitably comes up. I liken it to one person trying to keep multiple string-less helium balloons from rising at the same time or to someone trying to herd ten cats and get them all to go to the same place at the same time. It’s exhausting and next to impossible.

But this is all too often a picture of our lives.

I have to make a confession: Apart from the Spirit of God, I am a natural control freak. And I don’t think I’m alone. As humans, we strive so hard to keep everything under control in our lives. We want the perfect job, the perfect salary, the perfect house, the perfect car, the perfect spouse, and the perfect family. We fight so desperately hard to maintain our image so that others think that we’ve got everything under control. However, in reality, we are secretly exhausting ourselves with losing a daily battle to maintain control. The further we go in life, the faster the moles keep appearing, and the harder it is to maintain control. Pretty soon, the secret can no longer be a secret. The moles get loose. Chaos erupts. And all the onlookers realize that our lives are not as under control as they thought they were.

Sometimes we spend years creating an image of ourselves intended to impress everyone around us. We build ourselves a kingdom, name ourselves the king, and begin to compete against other kingdoms. But we can only keep up the façade for so long before it all comes crashing down.

All the moles pop up at once.

All the helium balloons escape our grasp.

All ten cats go in ten different directions.

And we are left with nothing to show for.

When we get to this point, we become broken—painfully broken. We feel like we have completely lost control. For some people, it’s losing a job. For others, it’s losing money. Still others find they have lost a loved one through death or that they’ve lost their marriage to divorce. There are those who developed a life-threatening disease. Some lose a home to foreclosure or to a natural disaster. And there are even those whose secret sin becomes publicly exposed. For others, it is perhaps not quite so intense, yet still very significant—maybe it’s getting kicked off a team, breaking up with a girlfriend, or failing a class. But whatever the circumstances may be, they all ultimately lead us back to the same place—a place of brokenness and a loss of control.

And that’s exactly where God wants us.

No, I am not saying God likes to see us suffer. But He does love to see us surrender. It would be far easier if we just gave the hammer to God and let Him take care of the moles from the start. But far too often, our human pride says, “It’s ok, God, I’ve got this.” At the beginner’s level of the game, that might be true; but what happens when it gets to the expert level? All of a sudden, we can’t keep up. It’s easy to think we have life under control when everything is easy and going well in life. But what happens when things start falling apart? Where do we go then? If we’ve truly given the control to God, then we will be safe and secure in the midst of the chaos. But if we try to keep the control for ourselves, we will quickly become exhausted, burn ourselves out, and fail.

The bottom line is this: No matter how hard we try to control our lives, there are things that will happen that we have absolutely no control over. I believe that Jesus is speaking a message to us loud and clear: “Give me your keys,” He says. “Let me take care of all the moles. Let me do it in the way that only I can. Let me truly have control of your life so that I can use you for My glory.”

Christians often say that we’ve given God control; yet for many, it’s just a saying that sounds good but contains no meaning. There’s no doubt that we love Jesus and want to serve Him, but we want it all on our terms and in our controlled environment. The problem is: God doesn’t work in a controlled environment. Actually, He thrives on working through chaos and confusion to bring His Kingdom order. It’s how He created the world. And it’s how He wants to work in our lives too.

So give Him your mess today. Everything that you’ve been holding so tightly for so long, just release it all to Him now. Feel the weight lift off your shoulders as you do that. You were never meant to be in control. And you aren’t very good at it.

Why not let Him take it from here?

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