I’ve been playing a lot of chess recently. It’s a nice quick break when I need one and the variety of the game always keeps me coming back for more. (I’ve read that there are so many possible games that no one will invest the effort to calculate the exact number).
There is something immensely enjoyable about shrinking your world down to a board with 64 checkered squares, 6 types of pieces, and just you and your opponents skill and experience.
Strategy, sacrifice, the pride of winning and the sting of defeat – the game has it all!
It’s so easy to play one game after another… after another (on chess.com you can instantly find someone to play with from around the world as soon as your current game ends). Pretty soon you are engrossed in wanting to get better – to get to the next level. The best portrait of this is Bobby Fischer who was arguably the greatest chess player of all time. I watched most of the recent movie about him, Pawn Sacrifice, but then my plane landed and I didn’t get a chance to finish it. I kept thinking about how determined he was and how there was nothing and no one who could stop him in becoming the world champion of chess. Eager to be proven right I found the following clip to the end of the movie:
I was right. He had won.
But at what cost? The footage at the very end is of the real Bobby Fischer.
Did you catch what he said?
“Chess is basically a search for truth.”
He had lived his entire life in pursuit of becoming the best that at the end of it all he ascribed the highest of value to a game. He worshipped chess. How many of us do the same? Maybe not with chess, but how many of us exchange the truth of God for the lie, and worship and serve creation rather than the Creator?
It’s so easy to become engrossed in seemingly harmless things to distract us from the present, from pain, from the struggle. But we can only meet with God in the present. We can only come face to face with the eternal in the here and now. What are the things that distract us from letting God perfect that which concerns us? What are the things that hinder us from carrying out the will of God for our lives?
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. (John 2:15-16)
Do you want to be the guy who hits the snooze button several times (lust of the flesh) or the one who is eager to faithfully seek God out through prayer and reading His word?
Do you want to be the guy known for always flipping through his smartphone checking the ‘latest and greatest’ (lust of the eyes) or the person always ready to lend a helping hand?
Do you want to be known as the best chess player of all time (pride of life) or the best version of yourself – the best follower of Jesus you can be.
Be as those who,
use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:31)
Put another way: Use this temporal world to lead you to an eternal God – not the other way around.
It is in the small victories that we prove to God that we are His.
Not many of us think we are living for money, fame, pleasure, and other trivial things that we ought to count as rubbish, but where is the proof? Where do I spend my time, energy, and money??
There is your answer.
May God grant us a spirit of repentance to turn away from worldly cares and carnal lusts and give us the grace to answer Satan every time like our Lord Jesus Christ did,
“Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”(Matthew 4:10)
(The picture is from the ‘Game of the Century‘ right before Bobby Fischer makes the ultimate sacrifice to go on and win the game)