We play a game at our house called Ticket To Ride. The game is played on a board where railroad routes are outlined to cities all over the country. Each player draws three route cards worth varying numbers of points, depending on the length of the route, but only that player knows which cards he has drawn or how many points they’re worth. He must then fill in the line between the cities on his routes. He can draw more route cards whenever he wants, but if he doesn’t complete a route, the points allotted to it will be deducted from his total at the end of the game.
Beside the points awarded or deducted at the end, players get to move forward spaces on the board as they complete segments of their routes. Complete three segments of a route, and move ahead four spaces, which equals four points. Complete four segments, move ahead seven spaces. A five-segment completion, ten spaces. (You get the idea).
As the game goes on, one player will move ahead of another, then be supplanted by a third. There are a total of a hundred spaces on the board, and by the end of play one of us will only have moved forty or fifty spaces while another will have moved 85 or so. But where one is at the end of play does not determine the winner, because it’s not just the points on the board that are counted, but the points added or deducted from the route cards as well. The person who is in last place on the board may even turn out to be the winner because he has secretly completed the most routes.
In life, people measure their success by how they compare to others playing the game. He buys a new car and moves up three spaces. She gets a new job and moves four. They get married and move ahead fifteen spaces, buy a house and move another ten. People move ahead or fall behind throughout life, and then a person dies and the game ends.
But even in life it is impossible to measure success while the game is still in play. After the last card is played and the final move made, there remains treasure in heaven to be counted. Like in Ticket to Ride, if you focus solely on what you’ve attained in comparison to others, you are going to lose. You have to be concerned about tallying the rewards at the end.
With that in mind, consider these words of Jesus:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:19-34)