As a boy my favorite board game was “Chutes and Ladders.” The players roll dice to move from the start to the finish, from the bottom of the board to the top. If you land on a chute, you slide back and down. It was a bummer. Land on a ladder, and you jump well up the board and near the goal. It was a thrill to find a ladder and draw closer to the goal. That’s life, isn’t it? At every moment, we’re either moving closer or farther from the goal of our lives.
How do we win? Jesus tells us the secret of life’s chutes and ladders hinges on getting our loves rightly ordered. What we love in life is meant to be a ladder, drawing us up into God’s love — including our family, friends, work, play, food, and drink. Even to give your water to someone out of love for Christ leads to a sure reward.
But those ladders of our loves can become chutes. If we love even our family members more than Christ, we slide down and back. If we love the persons and things in our life for the sake of Christ, He says we “surely will not lose our reward.” The key difference between a chute and ladder, between our spiritual regression and advancement, is our willingness to renounce everything — even our own life — for the love of Jesus. To allow everything and everyone we love to draw us to love him more — that’s the difference between chutes and ladders.
— Father John Muir