My jenga tower

One of my favorite games involves pulling things apart. It’s a high-risk game, as no matter how awesomely you’re doing, things can go wrong very quickly, and then it’s all over.

A game of Jenga begins with a tower of crisscrossing wooden blocks stacked on top of each other, three in one direction in each level, covered by three in the alternate direction in the next level, and so on.

Each player takes a turn removing any block and placing it at the top of the tower, continuing the pattern, until the tower is so weakened that it falls. The person who moves a block and causes the tower to tumble loses. Simple and nerve-racking.

When I first started playing, I’d usually try to remove the most structurally integral blocks, just to prove that I could. Sometimes, I got away with my bravado. Often, my plans literally came crashing down. It took me some time to get the point that the safe method of playing resulted in far more consistent wins. I learned my lesson—or did I?

Looking at my life today, it strikes me that I still tend to play with the wrong strategy. I stack up my tasks, plans, and needs into a towering pile beyond my ability to manage. And then I start by removing the most important blocks—starting with my time in prayer and in God’s Word. Then my family, my sleep, my nutrition, my exercise. All the while, I tell myself that I’m coping pretty well, and my life-tower is still standing. I ignore the warnings that I’m playing risky and I smugly trust in my ability to balance everything on an ever-weakening foundation. But it never lasts. Eventually—and often at the worst possible time—my life-tower crumbles. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Jesus promised that whoever builds on “the Rock” will be safe and sound, and even counted as wise. The apostle Paul also admonished that “no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.”1 His point is clear: put first things first, and build your life-tower on the foundation that will support it. Then keep it strong by prioritizing the parts that hold it up, and if you must trim, trim in other areas. Our time is limited. Each day brings plenty of challenges, as well as the temptation to let go of what we feel we can succeed without. But Jesus, prayer, and fellowship with fellow believers are the things that will keep the tower of my life stable.

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:11 NLT