Charles Darrow was out of work and as poor as a pauper during the Depression, but he kept a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eye. He didn’t want his wife, expecting their first child, to be discouraged; so every night when he returned to their little apartment after standing in the unemployment lines all day, he would tell her funny stories about the things he had seen – or imagined.

Darrow was a clever man, and he was always coming up with notions that made people laugh. Darrow knew how powerfully his own attitude affected his wife. His temperament was the color his wife used to paint her mood. If he came home weary and irritable, her spirits fell, and her smile vanished. On the other hand, if she heard him whistling a merry tune as he climbed the many flights of stairs up to their tiny rooms, she would fling open the door and scamper out to the railing to lean over and smile at him as he wound his way up the staircase. They fed on the gift of each other’s joy.

In his younger years, Darrow had enjoyed happy family vacations in nearby Atlantic City, and he drew on those memories to keep his spirits high. He developed a little game on a square piece of cardboard. Around the edges he drew a series of “properties” named after the streets and familiar places he had visited during those pleasant childhood summers. He carved little houses and hotels out of scraps of wood, and as he and his young wife played the game each evening, they pretended to be rich, buying and selling property and “building” homes and hotels like extravagant tycoons. On those long, dark evenings, that impoverished apartment was filled with the sound of laughter.

Charles Darrow didn’t set out to become a millionaire when he developed “Monopoly”, a game that was later marketed around the world by Parker Brothers, but that’s what happened. The little gift he developed from scraps of cardboard and tiny pieces of wood he had obtained from a scrap pile was simply a way to keep his wife’s spirits up during her Depression-era pregnancy; ultimately, that gift came back to him as bountiful riches.

Monopoly is still being sold by the thousands more than 70 years later. Every time I think of those little green houses and red hotels, the unusual game pieces, and those “get out of jail free” cards that made us all race around the board to pass “Go” and collect $200, I see an example of shared joy. Isn’t that our whole purpose here on earth?

To share the joy of knowing Christ and the salvation that comes only through Him? Let’s make sure that is what people are seeing when they look at our lives. After all, we don’t have a “Monopoly” on salvation. It’s for EVERYONE!!  –  Tim Woodward, Church of Christ, Smithville, TN

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