“Last Game”

There’s a little pool room that I grew up shooting pool in called “Reds Bar & Grill” in Spartanburg, SC. It’s always seemed to be much more of a pool hall than a bar to me because it is always had a young crowd. It is still only 25 cents per game,  and you’ll regularly find local kids gambling for a dollar a game, five a game, etc. I never was the best technically, but I knew how to manage the game of nine ball to my advantage, how to match up,  and how to “appear lucky instead of good” and “lose enough” to be able to keep winning overall. I know,  I know. Some will say that I’m glorifying gambling. No, I’m just being honest about what part this place has played in my life.
I really don’t go to Red’s that often anymore, but occasionally I drop in and shoot for a few hours. For decades, when I walked in, there was always someone inviting me in on “the action”. There was always someone who knew me and knew that I was a gambler who wasn’t afraid to bet on “fair odds”, wasn’t afraid to lose, wouldn’t quit just because he was down, and (most importantly to them) always was “good for it” if I lost. And I had even worked as a bartender there for a short while when a friend was part owner/operator in the business. So you could say that this was my “Cheers” where “everybody knows your name” at one point in my life. 
But tonight, there wasn’t a single face or name that I recognized. In fact, one of the “loud hustlers” gambling at the table beside me kept mentioning the name “Scottie Moore” as he talked about an “older guy from around here that you don’t want to mess with” and it was everything that I could do not to correct him on the name and tell him that professional player “Stevie Moore” indeed shot pool at Red’s  (and at Shooters back in the day) and that for a while he even made it back to Red’s regularly for some of the holiday gatherings that Red would put on each year. I didn’t mention all of the old names like “Mamie”, “Slim”, “John Jones”, “Brian White”, and so many others who spent so much time shooting pool around Spartanburg that the places like Reds were like a second home and a second family. You see, all of that seemed to have passed away with time and it was like a cloud of hot, stale smoke that used to linger — but was now replaced by cool, filtered and air conditioned newness. 
At the end of the night,  they still called “Last Game” over the speaker – but I think the last game had already been called some years ago on the Reds that I remember. Red wasn’t there himself reminding everyone, “It’s a dollar to play on the floor” if a ball jumped off the table. There wasn’t the old, familiar limited set of honky tonk country songs on the jukebox, but it was a mix of every genre imaginable. So much was different. An Era seemed to have passed by, but it still exists, and a new generation seemed to be there making their own new types of memories. 
It’s interesting to me how we never seem to notice these shifts, these changes in the seasons of our lives until the change is complete and we are noticing what is now drastically different. I mean, we should know that for just about everything in this life,  “Last Game” has been called and we are just whirling our way towards the end.  I mean, we aren’t even promised tomorrow,  and some won’t even make it until tomorrow. Some families will be preparing tomorrow for funerals that were unexpected today. Some young ladies will be showing a pregnancy test result to a surprised young man tomorrow. Some nurses will be handing a new bundle of joy to new parents, while some doctors will be handing over upsetting news to families with, hard decisions to make about their loved ones. 
Do we want to make it through our “Last Game” unaware and ignorant that change is coming? Or would it help us to understand the value of our time?  Wouldn’t it be profitable for us to invest this “last game” in a purpose and calling worthy of our dedicated effort and time? 
I used to be a gambler. If I was behind,  I knew that “last game” was a chance to “double or nothing” if I was behind for one last chance to “get back to even” if they would go for it,  but sometimes it was too late for that ploy to work. 
But now,  I’ve already been guaranteed the victory in Christ Jesus. He has finished my salvation at the cross. I don’t have to earn it by living a different way,  but instead, I get to make the most of this “last game” in living a purpose driven life sharing the Good News, living out my life as a living testimony of walking in the Spirit not in the flesh and trusting Him and giving God all the glory. 
Yes, that is a bit of a shift from that old life of the gambler – but the “last game” was called on him 2000 years ago at the cross, and confirmed by the empty tomb. The old has passed away and the new is come. My life is being reconciled to Christ grace by grace, faith by faith, day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath.
He has called “last game” over your life as well. Your body has a born on date and an expiration date. But more importantly,  I must ask if you are born again? Are you alive spiritually? Do you have that upward calling upon your life that extends beyond the bounds of this early realm?
The answer is between you and Him. I’m not trying to get you to “join my whatever” — no, I’m just asking you,  “Are you right with God?” And if you know that you aren’t,  I’m telling you that He is available and you shouldn’t delay even until the morning. Speak with Him. Clear the air about those areas where you know you have fallen short. Ask for forgiveness and for His strength to see your repentance be effective and fruitful in leading you in a new way. He is faithful to forgive and it is His will for sin and death to be overcome in your life. It is a process,  and, He will see you through it,  if you will walk with Him. 
May the LORD bless you and keep you.

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