I was talking with a client about God and Christianity recently and, while describing his journey, he used this analogy:

“Believing in and trusting God is like playing one of those crane games at the arcade. The claw crane game filled with plush toysgame is rigged against you. Its nearly impossible to get the stuffed animal out. Ever so often, you’ll get really close; close enough to keep you playing. But you’d be better off spending your time and money doing something else rather than wondering and hoping if you’ll ever get the prize.”

I can totally relate. It seems like sometimes God shows up in profound ways and renews hope and keeps me interested in Him. I get the prize. Then other times it feels like I’m steering the silly crane around, picking up stuffed animals that end up falling out of its grip, ultimately wasting time and quarters. I struggle with this, and I’ve never even been burned by church.

But my client has been. And so have many others. Being burned only serves to compound the confusion and frustration, making Christianity feel more rigged.

This really isn’t a ‘how to get past it’ post. It’s an ‘I’m sorry your faith journey has felt like an arcade’ post.

I apologize on behalf of the church if you’ve been burned. I’m sorry that perhaps in the most difficult circumstances of your life it has felt like you couldn’t put enough quarters in the God machine to get him to react. I have no explanation for it. I don’t know why God shows up sometimes and seems a million miles away at others.

The good news is that being able to admit it feels rigged is a step in the right direction. Being able to confess that you feel gamed and even ripped off by God, the church and/or Christianity is a good place to start. Maybe it’s time to quit plugging quarters in the machine and hoping to get a prize. Instead it might be more fruitful, for a while, to simply do life with people that love you and are authentic about their own journey.


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