1997-06-12 - Checkers
I've been teaching my 9 year old son to play checkers. Actually, he got the rules at school from a classmate who proceeded to whip him. It seems the child in question has been playing for a year or two. Of course that matters little to Chris. He, like his dear old Dad, just hates to lose. But knowing the rules, which he does, does not mean that he knows the game. There are tricks, ploys and strategies. Sounds like life to me.
Now, the best way I know to get better at a game is to play it. I got out the old wooden checker board and dusted it off. My son found the checkers from another game and we were set. I've been playing checkers since my Dad taught me to play at about age 6. I have not played for several years, but the general idea came back quickly. Chris has been playing for a grand total of two days now. The odds were slightly stacked in my favor.
I got to thinking about the routine losses dealt to me by my Dad a few years back as we played. As soundly as Dad seemed to have whipped me back then, I now know how hard he tried to keep it close. All the second chances he gave me when I made a foolish move, the times he must have passed up simple tricks that would have turned into crushing moves, and passing up easy opportunities to strengthen his position must have been a mind game all of it's own. Very much like the second chances, tricks and opportunities that I passed up tonight. All the while trying to encourage him when he made a good move, telling him it is just a game and not to take it too seriously when the eventual outcome was decided. After all, there will always be another checker game.
As I was taking a break, God touched my mind with this thought. Isn't all this very much like your Christian walk? For a moment I was speechless as my mind raced and wandered through the various similarities. The second and third chances when I sin or didn't understand, learning the subtle truths most often the hard way, seeing the opportunities and paths so obviously left to me by the Father seemed to flood through my memory. How patient has the Lord been with me, much like my Dad and those old checker games, among many other endeavors I'm sure. And in my defeats over the years, which have been many, Jesus was always right there to support and encourage me. He picked me up and brushed me off so many times when I had stumbled. And He still does. In His grace, He has taught me from those defeats. He has encouraged me when I have been obedient in the simplest things. And, when He had finally taught me enough of those lessons and I strung them all together, He was there to celebrate my victory. Just like Jesus will be there to celebrate my final victory in Him.
I John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (NAS)
Lord Jesus, You have loved us and taught us so gently, through out tantrums and our tears. Help us to see the things You have for us in the simple things in life. And teach us not to waste the hard lessons learned. Amen.