I went to Wal-Mart this morning. It was dreary outside. Angus had been sick for the last few days and last night was the night the threshold was breached. I knew Amanda was at the point of exhaustion as she called to say that she was about to enter the “Terror Dome” of the shopping experience in our town. The only thing I have against Wal-Mart, mind you, is that for reasons that only Sam Walton’s Think Tank Experts know, we can only have three live cashiers amidst twenty checkout lanes.
What happened to exceptional customer service? I guess when things went automated the “disconnect” that so many of us already feel simply bled over into “Self-checkout Lanes.” Why help someone move through the store quickly when you can have them stay a little bit longer and spend a little bit more, all the while, giving them very little interaction … except on the way in and the way out by a semi-retired person who probably needs to work there more than they want to work there.
But that’s not what really hit me about Wal-Mart today. What really hit me was the “Claw” game. You know the one. You give the game a dollar (most of the time that’s how it starts out). The claw springs into action. You manipulate where you want it to stop on its track. You poise it above some predetermined, coveted prize below. You push the red button and SHAZAM! The open claw drops onto the masses of unsuspecting prizes. Adrenalin is pumping … almost like the adrenalin surge I get during the opening video of “Rock Band” with Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” blaring through the desert as the band surfs on the back of the car! “Nobody gonna take my car, I’m gonna race it to the ground. Nobody gonna beat my car, I’m gonna break the speed of sound.”
But what happens next? You know it and I know it. Angus found out this morning. The genius of this game is that – like Vegas – the house always wins. I don’t know what the actual odds are but I bet they’re right up there in the mid-90’s as far as the odds of you losing. You can bet on it. Angus pushed the red button today. He lost today. Fortunately, he didn’t really care. God did. God brought it home to me.
Life is a lot like that game. The life of sin is absolutely appealing, more specifically, a life apart from God. It looks great from the outside. In fact, it’s marketed so well to us that we continue to try to win at it despite knowing the odds are completely stacked against us. If you really want to break it down then just look at how many people stay away from the Word, much less, the Church.
The wages of sin are death … every time! The gift of God is everlasting life through Jesus Christ … every time. Yet we try and try to win at that life apart from God. We can grasp with that “claw” at all the things we think we’ll get out of it: a good time, acceptance, inclusion, and adulation … whatever gets your rocks off. But every time we move the “claw” over and hit the red button our “claws” – our lives – come up empty handed.
The saddest part of the whole thing is that we will continue to play over and over and over again. Break the cycle. It’s all a lie anyway. If you play the house then you’ll never beat it. The house always wins. If you try to dance with the devil then you’ll always get burned. “The wages of sin are death but the gift of God is everlasting life through Jesus Christ.”