“Check.” Hmmm, not the word I wanted to hear. I am not a very good chess player, but even I can see that my list of available moves is minimal. In fact, I only have one place to go. . .and I can see what will happen next. Yep, there it is, checkmate. Dead. Finished. Done. Game over.
In high school, the chess club met at lunch to play the game. I was not a member. There seemed to be an unspoken rule that you had to have a certain IQ to join—and I definitely did not make the cut. Still, I hoped that hanging out with smart people would somehow rub off on me, so I went every now and then. It seemed that every time I played, the game ended rather quickly, and the outcome was always the same, I was the one defeated. I lost once in what felt like just two moves!
And yet, there is something intriguing to me about the game of chess. Its rules are fairly simple, but it is intensely intellectually invigorating. It requires planning, preparation, and anticipation. It requires simultaneous offence and defense. It calls for the careful calculation of the capabilities and limitations of each piece. It demands that the players know everything about their own pieces and their opponent’s. It involves total commitment and attention—not one single move can go unnoticed. It entails the sacrifice of individual pieces for the victory of all. It includes rescue and recover. It requires perfect timing and execution. It involves trying and failing, then starting over and trying again.
That sounds a lot like life. Only in the game of life we are the pieces. The choices we make determine our team. And, as in chess, some people are more valuable than others. It is not that God loves some more than others, it’s just that He can rely on some more because of their commitment and obedience. And that should be encouraging, because if we are not where we feel we should be, we can work to get there.
Sometimes, though, despite our best obedience and faithfulness, we may not always know why we are, where we are, when we are. That too is by design. We must remember that we are the pieces in the hands of the loving Chess Master. He sees the bigger picture. He has the master plan. We do not. He wants us to learn to put our trust in Him.
Finally, the opponent is dangerous and real. The world will continue to become more and more wicked. The dark clouds are gathering. The Devil is mounting his fiercest and most aggressive campaigns. We will become surrounded more and more by evil forces on every side. But we need not fear. Light will always overcome darkness. In the end, good will prevail. For now, we put our faith in God and keep moving forward.
And we look to the day when the game is over and God definitively declares “checkmate.”
Written: February 17, 2017