The One Thing

2048 - Michael's High ScoreOn October 1, 2014 I was sitting at a Starbucks in India, when my good friend, Bill, shared something profound. Well, let me clarify. I wasn’t in India. I was in downtown San Diego at the corner of Hawthorne and India. But Bill did share something profound.

By way of background, Bill and I have a long history of playing iPhone games. Upon besting the other’s high score we text screen shots as proof. Call it what you want. Essentially we’re 2 pathetic middle-aged men attempting to compete without physically injuring ourselves (as we’ve both done more than once).

Our latest obsession is 2048. It’s been a top game since it’s introduction in March. Simply put, the object is to slide numeric tiles around a 4X4 grid, pairing up numbers, doubling in size each time a match is found, until no more moves are possible. The object is to pair two 1024 tiles, yielding a single 2048 tile.

As Bill sat outside waiting for me to join him with my Americano, he started playing 2048 on his iPad. Seeing him deeply engrossed, I sat down and shared a lament. “I’m stuck! No matter how much I play, I can’t break through my high score of 7,016.”

Bill looked up and shared something profound. “Do you know the Rule of 3?”
“Only move in 3 directions. My son told me if you only move left, right, and up or down (but not both)…you’ll score higher.”

Not one for reinventing wheels, I started playing. The rule was simple so I needed no further instructions. Move after move, I slid the tiles left, right and upwards. Never down. My score quickly surpassed 1000, 3000, 5000 then 7500. Within minutes of hearing The One Thing (the Rule of 3), I established a new personal best. Then I blew past 10,000 and 15,000 – gaining momentum.

I wondered why I didn’t think of this sooner. The logic is simple. If you never swipe down, all the high numbered tiles collect at the top – making it easier to match em up. Duh!

Like Millennials we sat 3 feet apart tapping away on our phones in silence. Much to my excitement, the very first time I played with Bill’s rule I tripled my high score reaching 22,160. I also revealed the 2048 tile and won the game. I felt sorta bad that with Bill’s one simple rule, I crushed his personal record – and became the first to win. I texted a screen shot to shame him.

Bill's Latest High Score

Bill’s Latest High Score

It was surprising how long I sat atop our leader board. Much to my disappointment, Bill has regained the lead and I can’t catch him. Perhaps there’s a Second Thing he’s not telling me.


It’s amazing what a difference One Thing makes. Sometimes One Thing is all you need to get unstuck. One Thing can help blast through ceilings – and reach new heights. One Thing opens eyes and changes minds. The 2048 Rule of 3 didn’t change my life, but that one little thing did change how I played the game.

There’s this other One Thing that did change my life. His name? Jesus.

I can’t remember who first told me about Jesus. I heard once that, on average, people have to hear about Him seven times before they embrace Him. I don’t know if I heard about Him 5 times or 50…but somewhere along the way it hit me. Like the Rule of 3 for 2048. Someone I trust told me The One Thing – and I decided to quit trying to figure out life on my own?

In case you’ve never heard The One Thing, let me tell you about it.

Most of us have heard John 3:16 (or at least seen a crazy fan at an NFL game hold it up on a sign). But if you’re like me, you don’t watch NFL football seeking wisdom from hand-painted signs. Needless to say you may not have recognized it as The One Thing. Here it is.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

There it is. The One Thing. Believe in Jesus and you won’t perish.

C’mon. Really? Can it really be that simple? What’s the catch?

I suppose there is a catch, and it’s found in Ephesians 2.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The catch is this. You can’t do anything to earn it. It’s a gift! You have to accept this gift on faith. Trusting it’s the One Thing that will set you free.

I occasionally wonder where I’d be if Bill hadn’t told me about the Rule of 3. I’d probably be stuck at 7,016. Not a bad score – but not victorious. As it turns out that one piece of information – that one missing piece – made all the difference.

I’m pretty sure Bill was also one of the many who told me about Jesus. I shudder to think where my life would be without that One Thing. If you’re not sure about the One Thing – read this blog 6 more times and maybe by the 7th time…you’ll decide it must be true for you too.

If you play 2048, try the Rule of 3 and let me know if it improved your score. And while you’re at it – place your faith in the real One Thing…Jesus. Let me know if that move improves your life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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