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The Game of Chance
Photo: Pam Roth
Paul is the grandfatherly type whose New England accent and jolly nature attracts others to him. His genuine compassion and caring nature radiates from him. As a born again, committed Christian he loves to share Jesus with anyone he meets.

But, Paul is out of control.

The thrill of chance, the possibility of winning and the excitement of risk calls so strongly to Paul that he abandons all reason and ethic to chase after his gambling addiction. When Paul goes on a gambling run he leaves home and drives up the interstate to the Indian Casino just an hour away. He finds himself going when he had no plans to go.  He fails to tell his wife where he is going or how long he will be gone. A couple hour trip can turn into a couple of days until his money runs out.

The Casino is Paul’s “paradise or purgatory” depending on if he wins or loses. But Paul never wins. What little he might win gets swallowed up in the continued quest to get a little bit more. The run ends when the ATM won’t give him any more from his account.

Meanwhile Paul’s wife waits at home. She desperately hopes that he hasn’t gone again, but as the hours drag by the obvious is clear. He gave in to the irresistible pull. He promised not to, but Paul’s promises about stopping gambling are as the Bible says “ropes of sand.” 

Paul’s pastor suggested he attend Gambler’s Anonymous. But Paul didn’t have a problem like others. His gambling was just for fun. He had it under his control. Oh, yes, he spent more than he intended, but it was all in good, clean fun.

Accepting Reality

Yet, after another painful run, an empty bank account and a hurt, angry wife Paul decided to try the meetings. It didn’t take long until he realized that he was just like them and they were just like him. He learned from their stories of success and failure. He started to learn principles on how to fight the irresistible pull. He learned about boundaries and commitments and made some with his wife over his gambling weakness. She is now part of the process for healing. 

Whenever Paul gets the urge to go, his wife is right there with him. At their agreement, she controls the money. He has an allowance and when that is gone, he is done. It seems to be working, but Paul secretly longs for the day he won’t have to struggle at all with the pull. That day may be a long way off, but for now things are much better.

Paul agrees with another Paul when he wrote: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

It’s through Paul’s changed thinking that he is winning the battle over the irresistible pull.

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By Chad McComas. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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