Pull Up a Chair...

Pull up a chair and play a game with me. 

Sounds like fun. 

Do you know how to play chess?

A bit; I'm not very good.

That's OK. We're not going to play real chess. 


Did you catch the mischievous glint in my eye?

Nope. We are going to play dream chess.


Exactly. Before we can play, you have to tell me 
your dream of your future. 

What does that have to do with chess?

I see your confusion, but trust me. 

You'll see. Just tell me your story, the one you hope 
to write with your life. 

And so, you weave your dream for me, letting me, ever so briefly, glimpse your secret hopes. You tell me the story you want to live out. Maybe I have to tease out some of the details, or stop you to remind that I have asked for a story and not a to-do list, but slowly or quickly, one way or another, your tale is told. You tell me about the work you hope to do and how you will get there. University, career training, hard work, and eventually, the full reward of this effort and planning. Then you tell me about the relationships you will have... well, not quite. You tell me about that one, special, relationship you dream of and how it will carry you into the rest of your future. You sigh, ever so slightly, at this point in your story, imagining the love of your life, and the additional relationships that will spring from it. Then, the rest of the story rolls up quickly, perhaps a little bit too much like a cheap rug... or so you seem to wonder, as it all to quickly ends...
That was a beautiful story. 
I hope all your dreams come true.

Ready to play?

I guess.
In your dream, you told me of your life for 
years to come. The result, in game terms, 
is that you get to know my moves
far in advance. 


Really. Do you think that knowledge 
will help you win?

Absolutely! How could I lose?

I quickly suppress a sad and knowing smile.

In fact, you can know up to my next twenty 
moves. But, I will only need four to defeat you. 

Yes, I see the doubt and confusion returning to you face. 

First I will free my queen. 
Then I will move her to the center of the board. 
My third move will take her to the pawn right in front of your king. 
And on my fourth move, the game will be over. 

What? How will that happen?

Let me show you. 

I proceed to do exactly what I told you I would do. 
It happens so quickly, you fail to move a single piece. 
Why did you lose? You knew exactly what 
I was going to do but you still lost... 
How could you let this happen?

...you didn't give me any moves.
I told you this wasn't chess. Thanks for the game. 

You see, life is not a game of chess. It is not fair nor regulated and it rarely gives you the time to think that you need. More importantly, that game of chess was played out exactly as you wrote it. I was playing the part of the world and you were playing the part of God. That's right, God. And do you know who didn't get any moves in your story? God. It has been said that failing to plan is planning to fail. Most of us fail utterly and completely when it comes to planning anything to do with our walk with Christ. If I asked you a specific question like "do you want to be more patient in five years?" or "Do you hope to be a more mature believer in a decade?", you would say yes. Of course you would. We all know what the right answers are and I am, after all, a pastor, so you would feel compelled to give me the 'right answer.' But when I ask you to dream, to hope, to plan, to tell me the story you hope to write with your life then, well... then things are different. Somehow Jesus never got to be a part of that story. Maybe you left Him behind in your youth, or maybe He was never part of your story at all, just an insurance policy to keep for... later. No one can win without a move. Now, go back to the beginning and ask again: what is the story you hope to write with your life? Will you stop dreaming your dream, and seek to join His?
P.S. I have played this game for real with several of the high-school students at our church. All but one lost in four moves. That one lost in five, and I was thoroughly impressed with him for getting that far. Putting yourself in this story may seem artificial since you did not, after all, get to tell me your story. But would you have done any better? 

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