I am a skeptic, rarely confident of any definitive outcome. Even when one of our son's baseball teams was winning 12-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning, I still could not stop yelling helpful advice and just enjoy the moment. So many variables, you know, so few endings that were "sure things." However, there was this one time.
It was 1982 and I was sitting on a bench at a train station, en route from New York to Boston, when a young man sauntered up and sat down beside me. Using the concrete slab in front of us, he began setting up a little cup-and-ball game, appearing to be nonchalantly amusing himself with his trinkets. Each to his own, I thought.
Soon another young man arrived and sat on the other side of the gamesman. He appeared equally as intrigued with the activity as I was.
There were three small cups and one smaller ball. The trick was to hide the ball under one cup, quickly mix them up, and then choose which cup had the ball under it. Before long, the two men were competing, betting $5 per contest. I mentally tracked the cup, winning every single time, wondering why the poor sucker, the one who had actual money (not just keen eyesight and a really sharp mind like I had), never won. Game after game, he chose the wrong cup. Yet, it was so obvious. After about $30 had changed hands, the frustrated loser got up and left. As the train approached and I reached for my suitcase, Money Man gave me a chance: "Wanna play? We both put up $20. You guess the right cup; you'll get $20. You choose the wrong cup and you owe me $20."
The cup-bearer laid his crisp bill in front of me. I broke out in hives. I might as well have been standing there as one of two Miss America finalists. One crown, two grinning hopefuls, three possibilities: she would win; I would win; or she would win and I would break her legs so she couldn't fulfill her duties.
I was so tempted. I couldn't lose. After all, up to that point, I hadn't missed. But something prevented me from playing. I was either chicken or cheap, I'm not sure which. Wishing him well, I boarded the train, kicking myself because I had just walked away from a sure thing.
However, about a month later the New York Times carried the story of the scam involving those young men who were in cahoots to set up naive women like me. What had appeared to be infallible was anything but.
Let's face it. There are few "absolutes" in this world. We need to choose carefully where we place our bets. Some are much more significant than others.
Eternity, for example. We are all given a chance to put our lives (including our money) on God, to know with certainty that Jesus has gone before us to decorate our Heavenly homes.
"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going," John 14:2-4.
Get that? "You know the way..." Sounds pretty certain, doesn't it? And unlike my encounter with the cup-and-ball shyster, this is one bet where the stakes are so "high," the bet is so worth making that I can't afford to miss out. And neither can you.