Do You Want to Be a Pinball Wizard?

Jen’s Gem: Trust God in everything.

Elton John is one of my favorite singers. I’ve seen him in concert three or four times, once in the front row at Madison Square Garden. That was epic! His genius on the piano is astounding and as a teenager, I had visions of one day being able to play like him. Ahh – the dreams of the young!

One of his songs, which was a remake of The Who, called “Pinball Wizard,” popped into my head recently as I was journaling. An image of a pinball machine accompanied the tune as I wrote about the ups and downs I had been experiencing. In that moment, I was feeling like my life was like a pinball game, subject to my ability (or lack thereof) to perfectly time and hit the flippers so that the little metal ball (me), wouldn’t fall down the gobble hole.

Lauren Daigle’s song, “You Say” has a lyric that resembles this very feeling:
“Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?”

I equated the actions of the flippers with decisions I’ve made in recent years. When there was ample time to strategize and plan, I thoughtfully tapped the pop bumper for the corresponding flipper to move the metal ball. However, when it was rolling at warp speed down the shooter alley, knee-jerk decisions (aka manic tapping of any available pop bumper) had to be made to save it from doom.

If you would’ve asked me a decade ago where I saw myself in ten years, my current reality is far from that plan. While I wasn’t super happy with my corporate job, I did envision staying there (or somewhere similar) until my kids were launched. A layoff squashed that plan.

I also thought, when I wrote my baby journal and started my baby gift business, that I’d be propelled into the millionaire’s club as a genius small business owner who discovered an untapped market. Um, no. A chance return to cubicle land saved me and once again I had visions of remaining there until my youngest headed to college. This would result in another layoff followed by an eventual and ill-fated return to a job that nearly cost me my sanity.

As someone who based her worth and value in her work, you can imagine how I was feeling. Tossed around like a rowboat on a raging river is the best way to describe my life. Perhaps you can now see how the analogy of the pinball machine entered my mind as  I contemplated my earthly existence.

Today as a freelance writer,  life continues to be a bit “pin-bally” as client work comes and goes. The dry seasons threaten the security of an amply-funded bank account, while the opposite can push me past my physical and mental abilities to juggle the multiple assignments by their respective deadlines.  

This feast or famine existence is teaching me two important lessons: gratitude and trust. When work abounds, I send up prayers of thanks and when it waivers, I trust God that all will be well. Bills will be paid and more work will come. Trust and gratitude are my pinball pop bumpers – tapping each as needed in order to balance the highs and lows.

Proverbs 3:5-6 sums this up perfectly:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (NKJV)

God’s will for my life – and yours – is not to be at the whim of a set of flippers. He has a plan for each one of us that was set before we were born. We were knit together in our mother’s wombs (Psalm 139:13) with a purpose. Our job, of course, is to find out what that is and then do it to the best of our ability, alongside our Creator.

My pinball machine existence over the past ten years has caused me a fair amount of anxiety. Ok, perhaps more than a fair amount. However, I’m learning to lean on and lean into Jesus in those times of uncertainty, trusting that He’s got my back. He sees my ups and downs and has a clear strategy to help me navigate through them.

This is the beauty of a relationship with Jesus. He’s that soft place to land when the seas of life toss you about. He’s the calming force in the storm. He’s the rock where you can firmly plant your feet.

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” Psalm 40:2 (NLT)

This week, I’d like to encourage you to turn your life’s flippers over to Jesus, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide your actions and decisions. When you live by His guidance you can be assured that the title of Pinball Wizard will be yours.

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Jennifer Covello, Copyright 2011-2024