So I bought a Rubik’s Cube for my son. This combines three things he loves: colors, puzzles, and using his hands. Then I began playing with it, and remembered the frustration I have felt in the past trying to get this stupid thing solved. I have always tested very well in school, and am typically very good at lateral-thinking puzzles and games. Here is what I learned about life from the Rubik’s Cube. This is an original list.
When I got my first Rubik’s Cube it was so beautiful and ordered. Nine colored squares per side, six sides, six colors… just waiting to be messed up. Exactly like life. Exactly like our spiritual lives.
The first time I turned my Rubik’s Cube, I swung three blue squares, landing them neatly atop six white squares. I noticed how easily the puzzle turned in my hands, spun it in my hands and saw that the one turn I had made didn’t just affect one side of the puzzle, but actually four sides. I quickly turned it back, thinking on all of the Rubik’s Cubes I had seen at yard sales, never to be solved, stickers missing, squares popped off. I didn’t want mine to turn out that way. I looked at it again and thought, “Actually, that was pretty easy to turn it back, what about doing two or three turns, just to see.”
This whole story reminds me of the sin in my life. My life was created by God to have order, and to make sense. I have chosen to twist and turn my life in ways that are only meant to prevent my life from becoming “boring.” There is something inherently fun in chaos, and that is the lure, isn’t it? The first time people sin, it is usually “just to see.” The typical experience is exactly like the cube, it turns so smoothly, and there is the nervous anticipation of turning it back. It turns back quite easily, and we breathe a sigh of relief. Then we feel mastery. I am in control, and if I can control one move, I can just as easily control three. I will never have the “yard sale Rubik’s Cube”; I am far too brilliant for that to happen. Addicts continue to tell themselves: “I am in control; I can go back whenever I want, and I can stop anytime.” Anyone looking at their life from the outside can see that this is clearly not true.
So, sure enough; I don’t know quite when it happened, or how many turns it took, but I went one turn too many, and the puzzle was unsolvable for me. It just no longer made sense to me. Then I went through several processing stages: First, I told myself it was a stupid puzzle. Then, I tried solving it for a while, with no luck. Then, my lateral thinking brain began to think of alternative, acceptable solutions. “This stupid cube is not the boss of me. It is just colored stickers on a plastic cube…Stickers!” In the true spirit of act first, think later I began clawing and peeling off the square stickers and replacing them, giving the puzzle the order and beauty it once had. But, the puzzle wasn’t quite the same. The stickers were all a little off-center, not as sticky as they once were, and would fall off occasionally. Also, the cube itself wasn’t really the same. It didn’t turn as easily as it once did. I had to turn it all just right making it all square again before I could spin a row. It would get stuck and click, and kind of feel like I was breaking it just by using it normally.
I have been mired in sin many times, too tangled and too deep to believe that I can ever get out. I have tried many times to just “peel the stickers off”. It never works. It doesn’t “stick”, and it doesn’t feel right moving within my manufactured order. Not the way it does when God is in control, and I am doing what He asks me to do. I think the question that I find myself asking more times than not is, “Why not just give me a Rubik’s Cube that is six sides, but only one color??? I want to have the freedom to move, without the possibility of making the wrong move. The other problem I find is that our sides are not “blue, red, white, yellow, orange, etc.” but rather, “Dark red, Brick Red, Red, Magenta, Red-Orange, etc.” That is to say, that once we make a move and we compare it against ourselves, it is very hard to see where we screwed up, and sometimes even if we screwed up at all. It is only under the light of scripture, talking to God, and hanging out with other people trying to follow Christ that will speak truth into your life on a daily basis that we are able to see if and when we are off base. The best people to do this are people who have a few stickers hanging off of their own cube, and a few mixed up pieces. Not the ones that you can tell have just replaced all of the stickers and are trying their best not to let you see all six sides. I am sure none of you are the type, but you know the type of person.
Finally, as the years went by, I learned some things about the Rubik’s Cube, thanks to the internet. It always seemed like I was just endlessly spinning this cube of colors with no rhyme or reason, and was just hoping to bump into the right answer on one side, then the rest would fall into place. What I have since learned is that on every side, the center square never moves. The color of the center square will always be the color of that entire side. That is the first and most important key in solving a Rubik’s Cube. I will keep you posted on if I ever get one solved. I am going to try to solve the one I picked up secondhand and get Xander a new one. This one doesn’t really spin right, it is very sticky at times. But it is still usable.
The sides of our lives are like: relationships, addictions, self-image, church life, prayer time, bible reading, finances… You can know that there is an anchor for all of these issues at the center is Christ. He has given us example and instruction in every major area of our lives. We must try to fit our lives around Christ, not try to get everything else figured out, and then try to add Christ in. It won’t work. Also, the older we get, the harder it is to turn. It doesn’t mean that we can’t change; it just means it is going to take more time, faith, and resources than before. Wouldn’t you agree that on some level, God is more honored in that than someone for whom these changes would just come so easily? He doesn’t just look at your stickers. He isn’t checking to see that all of your sides are perfect, just that the cube still turns, occasionally. And the only part of the puzzle that needs to be solved for you to get into heaven is the center squares… They have to be Christ. If you haven’t accepted Christ into your life as the central building block… do it now.