Playing Bingo with God

photoFor the last month or so, my 86 year-old Mom has been in a local nursing home.

It’s been a tough adjustment. She was already having significant memory issues, and a major relocation didn’t help. What everyone told us to expect has come to pass. This big change–a new environment, all-new routines, strange faces–has only exacerbated her confusion.

Mom’s always been an introvert. (Interestingly, this fact seems to be about the only thing her fuzzy little brain can’t seem to forget.) So two things are true. One, she doesn’t want to leave her room. And, two, she’s REALLY lonely (even though my wife & I drop in on her three to four times a day).

The other day I did what any good son would do: I put her in her wheelchair & rolled her down to the dining hall to play Bingo.

She was nervous, but there we sat, amidst the walkers and oxygen tanks. Listening. “B5 (long pause)…O62 (long pause)…N34. On and on it went.

On the “excitement scale” of Bingo sessions, this one was exceptionally tedious (which is quite a statement). But one thing stood out. After each cry of “Bingo!”, one of the residents (a friendly, adorable older woman with Down’s Syndrome), would jump from her seat and grab hold of a cart stacked with prizes–soft drinks, chips, cookies, even stuffed animals. Then she would eagerly navigate the cart over to where the winner was seated. There, with great delight, she would award a prize. She seemed to get far more joy from doling out these rewards than the recipients got in receiving them.

This all happened a week or so ago. And I forgot about it…until this morning.

I woke up thinking about faith–what that word really means, how hard it is to trust a God you can’t see, how small my own faith often is. And I ended up in Hebrews 11:6, a Bible verse that says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (NIV)

I bet I’ve read that verse a thousand times or more. But for some reason, when I read it today, the word that jumped out at me was the word “rewards.” God rewards people who exercise faith. God is a rewarder. I don’t know that I’ve spent much time contemplating that thought.

Suddenly I remembered my recent Bingo experience. The thought hit me: what if God, so to speak, has a big cart full of prizes? And what if when He sees, not a blacked-out Bingo card, but a needy heart, a seeking heart, a heart that is truly dependent, even expectant…what if God yells “Bingo!” then eagerly grabs His “cart piled high with goodies” and comes close? And what if He gladly, joyfully doles out good things…really good things like peace and fresh hope, maybe even a little bit of light for the darkness we face? What if when we seek God’s presence and fully trust His promises, we really are rewarded?

 I’d love to hear your thoughts.



  1. Christina C.

    I really like this. The past six months or so have been filled with “Bingos” for me! I have received prizes of peace, love, comfort, hope, guidance, forgiveness and many more!! And the thing is that if He sees that these things start “running low” or I feel that they are, all I have to do is ask and He will refill them all! And I know He is joyful and patient because all the time (years) I spent playing my own way, not paying attention, feeling left out when I saw others receiving their “prizes,” He was over there just waiting on me to call out. And when I did the blessing (or prizes) began rolling in!

  2. dipaolor

    Not that the guy who carries his wife luggage on her business trips opinion should matter. But that said. I think God has a whole lot more than a cart full of goodies in storage for each member of his worldwide family redesigned about the person of Jesus, God’s anointed one, who lived, died and rose again to reconcile us with God. But, let me tell you this, you have a gift for writing and telling a compelling story that makes you feel like you are there. Well done my friend! Well done indeed! Keep up the good work!

  3. dipaolor

    Sorry, also ditch the NIV for the NRSV, much more faithful translation of the Greek we studied at DTS, and by a long shot! Seriously! Be well and peace!

  4. Terrie Queen Autrey

    I would love to imagine our God, a loving father, waiting eagerly to hand out the prizes to the seekers and doubters, the ones who, like me this morning, just say, “I have been lost. I have been unhealthy. I know I need you. Can you shed a light & remind me of the way? Protect me from my own stupidity, PLEASE!”

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