I've been pondering lately all the ways we play Jenga. Of course, there's the real way with the wooden blocks. I like the older versions in which the blocks are primary colors, but there's also something to be said for the giant-sized versions that could actually cause bodily harm if you don't get out of the way when they fall. Jenga is a game that mimics life, especially if in life we do things that aren't entirely wise or have the potential for undesirable consequences. It's basically tempting fate, rolling the dice, taking a risk.
At my house, we play trash Jenga. I'll bet many of you do, too. This is when you keep putting stuff on top of the wastebasket, even though it's full. The game is lost when finally the pile is so big that something slips off and hits the floor. The rule at our house is that whoever put that last piece of trash on the pile has lost the game and must then take out the trash.
I also sometimes play migraine Jenga. There are some things I avoid like the plague because I know they will definitely bring on a migraine - any kind of alcohol, onions, yeasty bread, canned food. There are a bunch of foods that only sometimes trigger a migraine, especially if I'm careful not to have more than one of them at a time. Having more than one might be ok, but add a third and I'm really playing Jenga, and four is about like taking blocks out of the very bottom of the stack even when it's super likely that everything will fall. Some of these foods are things I really like to eat, or are hard to avoid when I'm not the one cooking, and so I'll knowingly play Jenga. The game is lost when the migraine arrives.
In a variety of ways, we play life Jenga, continuing to do things we know we shouldn't, hoping the tower won't fall quite yet. We keep on spending, loading up our schedules, eating poorly, going without sleep, skipping exercise, pushing our limits, putting off the inevitable. Eventually it will catch up with us, but for now we can keep on playing.
Proverbs 19:3 says, "A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord."
We have no one to blame but ourselves. We know the consequences, and yet we keep on. Is it a game to us, like Jenga? Or a bad habit we just can't break?
Paul says in Romans 7:15 "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." We know we need to do better, but so often we don't. We keep on playing Jenga.
So what are we to do? Paul gives us an answer: "I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different." (Romans 7:24-25 Message Version)
Even this, our relationship with God, is a way we play Jenga...putting off reading the Bible or praying or going to church. The 3rd century emperor Constantine was impressed by Christianity enough to make it the state religion, but he didn't make it a part of his own life until he was near death. Spiritual Jenga.
God is so good. I'm thankful for God's grace shown to us through Jesus Christ, and I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit reminding me that I need to stop (if only I'll listen). I'm thankful for medication that stops the migraine. And I'm really thankful for extra stretchy reinforced trash bags.