I don’t play chess. I’ve started to learn it a time or two and dropped it for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that it takes too much strategic, advanced planning for me to consider it to be any kind of fun. Yes, I confess that I prefer my fun to require less of my mind. I feel like my job, our Friday night live program, my blog, hosting a women’s study and maintaining strong, godly relationships – not to mention leading the planning for an annual women’s conference – requires plenty of mental and spiritual focus, as well as advanced planning and preparation for success. So, I say “no thank you” to chess. And don’t even get me started on the 3D chess made popular by Star Trek! To me, that seems like the opportunity for a triple headache. I don’t need that kind of pressure in my “fun” time activities.
But I do know about chess. I understand the unique moves of the various pieces and that, in order to win, you must think strategically and not just tactically – must stay focused on the end goal from the beginning, but be able to be flexible based on your opponent’s moves – must protect your pieces, but be willing to give up a piece for the greater goal. And I understand that it is possible for me to get to a place in the game where my opponent’s victory is sure before I even realize it – meaning no matter what choices I make from that point I cannot change the fact that I’ll ultimately be in checkmate.
Most of you understand that no two Christians travel the same path. You have talents and struggles that I don’t. I have talents and struggles that you don’t. God tells us that He gives different gifts to each Christians. The whole of 1 Corinthians 12 covers that. So, I should never be a rook trying to do a bishop move – or vice versa. But, if I am a rook, I have a rook’s job to do and I had better do it.
For me, thinking strategically means that I make my decisions, use my talents, serve and live in a way that is focused on the Kingdom. I cannot get distracted by some fancy gambit my opponent is using to try to get me off course. God warns about turning back. Luke 9:62 [KJV] And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Satan may try to distract me with trials. Or try get me off plan by dangling the “health and wealth” gospel in front of me. He tried that maneuver with Messiah Himself, but Jesus shut him down. [See Matthew 4:8-11]
Have you ever been at a point in your life where you thought, “I have already lost this one”? Ever been tempted to give up because it seemed that some human being or maybe even the devil himself was out-maneuvering you at every turn? Ever thought, “If it is going to end this way, why put myself through the battle”?
Rebekah felt that way. After being miraculously healed from being barren [Gen. 25:21] the twins “struggled” inside her and she seemed to get to the end of her patience with it. Genesis 25: 22 [NKJV] But the children struggled together within her; and she said, "If [all is] well, why [am I like] this?" So she went to inquire of the LORD. If you think she might have been being melodramatic, the word “struggled” means “crush” or “break in pieces.” It seems like these little guys were not just wrestling – they were tearing each other apart!
The phrase “if all is well, why am I like this?” comes from just one Hebrew word, meaning “this” or “what now” which could have, in our modern vernacular, simply been translated “what now?” or “Why?” and we women would have perfectly understood Rebekah’s distress - no need for an eight-word phrase to describe it. I think we have all been at that point in our lives where we wanted to throw up our hands and say “what now?!” and had to fight to stay focused on the strategic plan and ultimate goal.
Luckily for us Christians, God is the one moving the pieces on eternity’s 3D chess board. He is the quintessential strategically-focused visionary. That is good news. He is never distracted or thrown off course by some Satan-lead gambit.
God already had His moves planned out long before He breathed new life into a planet that had become formless and void. He had it all planned out before He took soil, shaping it into the first man, and breathed life and spirit into His future family [Genesis 1:1-2, 26-28]. The Father is running the ultimate “King’s Gambit” and it will not fail. He knew from the beginning what He would do to redeem His oh-so-distractible children. [See Revelation 13:8] Our Chess Master remains laser-focused on that outcome. With Him, there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” [James 1:27]
Don’t get me wrong, we are no dispensable pawns in the hands of a God whose end game is “bringing many sons to glory” [Hebrews 2:10]. He is not willing that any should perish [2 Peter 3:9]. Satan is the one who would try to use us as pawns in his chess match with the Almighty God. Satan would readily sacrifice all us pawns to win. God sacrificed only one – the King Jesus – to save the future queen – the bride of Christ, the church.
From the day God created man, Satan had lost his bid for the human race. Before the devil took up the “serpent’s gambit” [2 Corin. 11:3] and convinced Eve to take of the forbidden fruit, he had lost. Before Satan stirred Cain with the murderous “anger gambit” he had lost. Before the great Deceiver used the “pride gambit” to convince men to build the Tower of Babel [Gen. 11:1-9] he had lost. Before he seduced Israel into child sacrifice. Before he led Judas to betrayal. Before the first nail went into our Savior’s hands and feet, Satan had already lost. Yet he fails to realize that he has already been check-mated by God.
Satan cannot pluck me, or any of us, out of the Father’s hands. Only I can lose this game - by walking away. If I stay in the game, and let God play out His own King’s Gambit, the end result is sure. God and I win. I may not see all the moves God has in store, but I know He has the eternity-winning strategy and I trust Him to play it out.
So, understand, you ancient opponent, you have lost all your gambits on every level. You just don’t realize it yet. Checkmate.
I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.