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It All Goes Back In The Box

Greed Mortality Vanity

Source: WHEN THE GAME IS OVER, IT ALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX by John Ortberg, pp. 11-14 (quoted from an audio retelling by the same author)

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Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2016-09-25

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 1:4

Author: John Ortberg


John Ortberg writes: 

My grandmother ... was a lovely woman, but she was the most ruthless Monopoly player I have ever known in my life. Imagine what would have happened if Donald Trump had married Leona Helmsley and they would have had a child. Then, you have some picture of what my grandmother was like when she played Monopoly. She understood that the name of the game is to acquire. 

When we would play when I was a little kid and I got my money from the bank, I would always want to save it, hang on to it, because it was just so much fun to have money. She spent on everything she landed on. And then, when she bought it, she would mortgage it as much as she could and buy everything else she landed on. She would accumulate everything she could. And eventually, she became the master of the board. 

And every time I landed, I would have to pay her money. And eventually, every time she would take my last dollar, I would quit in utter defeat. And then she would always say the same thing to me. She’d look at me and she’d say, “One day, you’ll learn to play the game.” I hated it when she said that to me. But one summer, I played Monopoly with a neighbor kid–a friend of mine–almost every day, all day long. We’d play Monopoly for hours. 

And that summer, I learned to play the game. I came to understand the only way to win is to make a total commitment to acquisition. I came to understand that money and possessions, that’s the way that you keep score. And by the end of that summer, I was more ruthless than my grandmother. I was ready to bend the rules, if I had to, to win that game. And I sat down with her to play that fall. 

Slowly, cunningly, I exposed my grandmother’s vulnerability. Relentlessly, inexorably, I drove her off the board. The game does strange things to you ... She was an old lady by now. She was a widow. She had raised my mom. She loved my mom. She loved me. I took everything she had. I destroyed her financially and psychologically. I watched her give her last dollar and quit in utter defeat. It was the greatest moment of my life.


The author continues: 

And then she had one more thing to teach me. Then she said, “Now it all goes back in the box–all those houses and hotels, all the railroads and utility companies, all that property and all that wonderful money–now it all goes back in the box.” I didn’t want it to go back in the box. I wanted to leave the board out, bronze it maybe, as a memorial to my ability to play the game.  

“No,” she said, “None of it was really yours. You got all heated up about it for a while, but it was around a long time before you sat down at the board, and it will be here after you’re gone. Players come and players go. But it all goes back in the box.”

And the game always ends. For every player, the game ends. Every day you pick up a newspaper, and you can turn to a page that describes people for whom this week the game ended. Skilled businessmen, an aging grandmother who was in a convalescent home with a brain tumor, teenage kids who think they have the whole world in front of them, and somebody drives through a stop sign. It all goes back in the box–houses and cars, titles and clothes, filled barns, bulging portfolios, even your body.

"I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind" (Ecclesiastes 1:4). 

The Crew Behind the Counter

Community Servanthood Humility

Source: Excerpted from a Facebook post by Jess Wilson, Diary of a Mom, posted 11/24/23, retrieved 11/28/23

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Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2023-11-28

Scripture: Romans 12:4 ; Philippians 2:4

Author: Illustration Exchange


Jess Wislon, of Diary of Mom blog, observes:

I LOVE this picture of Julia Child filming French Chef back in 1963. There are 5 people - FIVE! - sitting on the floor of the set, crammed behind her kitchen island, hidden from the camera's view. One of the five is holding at the ready a pie tin, which will undoubtedly be magically transported into her hand momentarily. 

*Photo from WGBH TV, "The French Chef," which first aired February 11, 1963. 

She continues:

Heck, even Julia Child couldn’t cook like Julia Child. At least not alone. 


Our Christian experience is much like the 1960s set of Julia Child's TV kitchen. So much is going on behind the scenes to prop us up, support us, assist us. We were not meant to serve up the dish we call the Christian life alone!

In fact, the Lord calls us — nay, commands us! — to function in community ... "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2, ESV).

Why? Because we are, in fact, one body. "For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another" (Romans 12:4-5, ESV).

Julia Childs didn't become the world's most reknown French chef in a vaccuum. 

It might have been Julia's hands the camera focused on, stirring the pot, whisking the batter, kneeding the dough, but behind her, all around her, beneath her, was a whole army of community helping her to be all she could be. 

We are no less called to be that supporting cast for one another. Sometimes, we'll walk beside each other. But just as often, we might find ourselves behind, or even beneath each other. In those moments, remember: "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:4-6, ESV).

In the Christian life, as the cameras are all focusing on you, don't forget to look around, behind, and beneath for all those who are supporting you, and give thanks that you are not called to live your life in a vaccum! 

And likewise, when you see all the focus on another, don't hesitate, even for a moment, to crawl behind the counter, to stoop down beneath another brother or sister in the Lord, to help them shine and be the very best they can be!

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, ESV).

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV).

Sketching the Distortions of Self-Perception

Self-image Image of God Beauty

Source: “You ARE more beautiful than you think: Dove hires FBI-trained forensic artist to prove women judge their appearance more harshly than strangers” by By CATHERINE TOWNSEND, published 4/16/13, retrieved 4/17/23

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2023-04-26

Scripture: Ephesians 4:24 ; 1 Samuel 16:7

Author: Illustration Exchange


Dove Soap is an icon in the American health and beauty industry. They have long been celebrated for their targeted ad campaigns exploring true beauty. One of Dove's recent tag lines is "You are more beautiful than you think." So, for its campaign titled Real Beauty Sketches, the company used a forensic artist to prove it.

Dove asked an FBI-trained forensic artist, Gil Zamora, to create sketches of seven women. The women were hidden behind a curtain; he never saw their faces. Rather, he “blind sketched” each one based on their self-descriptions. He then created a second “blind sketch” based on the descriptions of strangers who spent time “observing” the seven subjects.

The sketches were then revealed, side-by-side, to the subjects for them to observe the often startling difference between their self-perception and the perception of others.

Can you say “eye opening”?!

Dove says, as a company, they are committed to helping all women realize their personal beauty potential. This particular campaign was all part of a broader marketing campaign to help women discover their “real beauty.”


God is all about helping us to see our "real" beauty — not the beauty of external features, but the true beauty revealed from within as we conform ourselves to the image of Christ. There is no other, no greater image to which we can conform ourselves or compare ourselves.

Alternate Application: The question is not how we see ourselves, or even how others see us. The only question is how does God see us? In Him, we are declared perfect, blameless, holy. We are His beautiful Bride for whom He is returning. Walk in the light of how HE sees us!

"For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV).

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27, ESV).

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV).

"And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24, ESV).

Step Down From Your Pedestal

Confession Humility Jesus' Preeminence

Contributed By: Vince Putnam | Date Posted: 2023-03-17

Scripture: John 3:30 ; 1 Corinthians 3:4

Author: Vince Putnam

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Who Doesn't Love A Belly Rub?

Submission Humility Comfort

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2022-05-20

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 16:19 ; 1 Peter 5:5

Author: Illustration Exchange

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Uncombable Hair Syndrome

Sin Nature Self-examination Self-image

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2022-04-30

Scripture: Titus 3:5

Author: Illustration Exchange

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Determined to Run

Endurance Humility Purpose

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2022-03-09

Scripture: Hebrews 12:1

Author: Illustration Exchange

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Forever Dependent

Dependence on God Humility Gratitude

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2021-03-28

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:9

Author: Illustration Exchange

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My Contribution

Humility Success Quotes Praise

Contributed By: Thomas Bevers | Date Posted: 2019-10-16

Scripture: Philippians 4:13

Author: Thomas Bevers

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Interconnected Idols

Idolatry Pride Temptation

Contributed By: Jason Seville | Date Posted: 2019-03-06

Scripture: Colossians 3:5 ; Ephesians 4:22

Author: Jason Seville

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