I loved going to the fair or carnivals as a child. Living in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, the big event was Rooster Days each May. All the fun and festivities a girl and her friends could want. Of course, whether at the fair or strolling Main St in my hometown, we couldn’t resist the lure of the arcade games. One in particular fascinated me. As a softball and basketball player, I loved anything that required eye-hand coordination or speed and skill. So, I would always wander to the Whack-A-Mole game.

For those who haven’t experienced the joy, it’s a game that has several holes in the top of the machine. A mole pops up in different holes, and with the black mallet securely in hand, the goal is to whack him in the head as many times as possible. I always played at every opportunity, but as I grew older, other things clamored for my attention besides fairs and arcade games.

I ventured into the real world full of adult trappings: a career, home ownership, bills to pay, obligations, etc. My task list took precedence over fun or relaxation. Each year it seemed I had to handle more and more and felt inept and inadequate to handle most of them. Each day I would arise to see what “popped up” that had to be handled. I was living a live version of Whack-A-Mole. Whatever appeared through the hole got my attention, but so many were popping up that I couldn’t whack them all down. I grew exhausted and I wasn’t doing a good job defeating any of those pesky heads.

Are you in your own game of Whack-A-Mole? Do tasks and duties cause you to continually try to conquer each one all the while being pulled into a million directions? Welcome to the carnival! How do we escape from the perpetual cycle? How do we manage our responsibilities without wildly swinging the mallet trying to tame the critters?

I paused for a minute and thought about Jesus. He was never running around like a whirling dervish. He was calm and in control even when whole villages turned out to greet him, clamoring for a bit of his attention. What was the secret? I found it tucked in Mark 1. Verse 35 states: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

It is in our alone time with God that our world gets reset. We are engulfed by his peace that calms the craziness. He tells us in Psalm 46 to cease striving. Just stop. Put down the hammer and quit trying to bring everything under control. We can’t win on our own. It is only by His power that we can have the highest score on the Whack-A-Mole game. And the only way to be under his control is to spend time in his presence. 

The greatest prize isn’t a huge stuffed animal from defeating the mole. The greatest prize is the relationship that develops when we settle into alone time with our Savior.

Shelley Pulliam

About Shelley Pulliam

Howdy! (A girl from Oklahoma has to use this as her greeting) I’m Shelley Pulliam, executive director of Arise Ministries and former teacher of hormone-filled 8th graders. But my real claim to fame rests in my award as second grade spelling bee champ and my recent gun-handling skills as I train to competition shoot. It helps me be on guard when Satan comes knocking. I’m a voracious reader and can frequently be found at the theater enjoying movie marathons where my record stands at six in one day. I’m a single, never married, who loves to pour into children at every opportunity. Let me know if you have any for sale.