Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. [Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)]
When visiting our daughter’s family in New Mexico one October, stormy weather caused us to switch from the pumpkin patch/corn maze outing to an escape room attempt. With just an hour to solve a mystery and “escape,” we entered into a room filled with assorted puzzles, locks, props, and gadgets. Knowing we had to discover clues and complete a series of clever puzzles, we novices decided to divide and conquer. Each person worked on a different task speaking to their individual strengths. I worked on word puzzles while others worked on number challenges, dexterity puzzles, combination locks, or searched for hidden clues.
Silently working on our individual tasks, we missed important clues like the picture of randomly placed fruit. Had we counted the six apples, four lemons, two pineapples, and eight limes, we would have known the four numbers we needed to open a combination lock! Thinking the content of a letter was important, we missed seeing that it was an acrostic with the first letter of each line spelling the clue!
Wanting to prove our stellar problem-solving skills, we hesitated to ask our game guide for help. It wasn’t until we consulted her, talked with one another, and started working as a team that we made any headway. With less than five minutes left, we finally unlocked the kitchen door—only to find that it led into another locked room with even more hidden clues! Our guide is the one who finally released us. Even though we held a up sign saying “epic fail” in our post-game photo, we learned some valuable lessons about life.
Sure that we were as smart as the game master and wanting to get bragging rights for completing it on our own, rather than asking for help, we wasted time spinning our wheels and getting nowhere. Isn’t that what we do with God by only going to Him when all else fails? After all, if we do it by ourselves, we get the glory but, when we ask for God’s help, He gets the glory! Paul, however, tells us that God’s power works best in weakness: “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. … For when I am weak, then I am strong.” [2 Corinthians 12:9-10]
Ignoring the wise words of Ecclesiastes, rather than help one another, we divided to do our own thing. No one, however, makes it through an escape room alone—it’s a team effort and so is life! Escape rooms require collaboration, cooperation, communication, and listening to one another (even when the idea seems crazy); so does life in Christ.
Although we each had our own particular gift set and abilities—it wasn’t until we appreciated the gifts of others that we made any headway. Being the shortest one in the room, my grand saw a code on the baseboard that we bigger people missed. Even though she wasn’t good with letters or numbers, she spotted what turned out to be the most important clue! No one’s gift is more or less valuable when it’s a team effort. Isn’t that what Paul is telling us in 1 Corinthians 12?
The final lesson we learned was a simple one—don’t be afraid to lose. Failure—even an epic one like ours—is an inevitable part of playing any game so it’s best to embrace the game rather than the outcome. As for our life in Christ—we too will experience failure. With the exception of Jesus, no one else in Scripture did life perfectly. Nevertheless, because we believe in Jesus, we know the eventual outcome is a win. In the meantime, let us find joy in our journey, regardless of its challenges and difficulties.