Let’s imagine that you are walking down the midway at the world’s largest county fair. It’s about 9 PM and the place is crowded with people. You are surrounded, almost overwhelmed, by the bright flashing lights, the carnival music blaring from every direction, the booths with hawkers enticing you to spend your money and win a prize. You have your children in tow, more or less, but it’s hard because they love the midway. It’s the most exciting place they’ve ever seen.

Music!
Lights!
Food!
Games!
Crowds!
Noise!
Excitement!

Who doesn’t love the biggest county fair in the world? As you walk along, a man in a striped shirt calls out, “Win your sweetheart a teddy bear.” All you have to do is toss the ring over a milk bottle. It looks so simple. You put down a dollar, take three rings, and start tossing. Each one comes close, but for some reason you can’t quite get the ring to fall down in the right place. One of your tosses ends up halfway down the neck of the milk bottle, the other half resting on the top. “That was close,” the man says. “Try it again. You’ve got good aim.” So you take out another dollar and take three more rings. You aim carefully, each time coming close to success. Your children look on with amazed wonder, cheering you on, “Come on, Daddy. We want a teddy bear.” Not wanting to disappoint them, you try again and again, but each time you can’t quite get the ring to fall in the right place. As you start to walk way, the carny says, “Better luck next time, pal.”

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You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.