Last evening, my three sons finished a week-long game of RISK that began with six players. The longer the game went, the less it seemed like a game. Their too-competitive natures, inherited from yours truly, make it seem like a real war. When it finally neared its end, eleven-year-old Gabe bellowed out, “Hahahaha! World domination is within my grasp!” He became overly confident, though, and flaunted areas of strength (previously unnoticed by his brothers) which they then ruthlessly attacked. Cries of, “That’s cheap!” ensued as his brothers cooperated in their efforts to stop the little dictator.
I thought the game would never end. One color would spread across the board. Then an opponent would get reinforcements and the colors would mix once again. At some point in the game, each of us thought we had a chance to win. But the toss of the dice (or a single die if you only had one man standing) would slowly prove each of us wrong. In the end, the game was really that simple. There is a little skill/strategy involved in which continents you choose, where you place your reinforcements and where you attack. But, as my husband said, “The dice will determine the winner.” And no matter how hard a player closes his eyes and wishes for sixes, he is just as likely to get ones. In the end, Gabe prevailed, the game was packed away, and peace among siblings returned.
This morning it struck me how often life feels like being stuck in the middle of an endless game of RISK. Take one step forward – get knocked back. Things are going very well for a time, you are advancing successfully in your chosen path, and an unforeseen trial hits you and sends you reeling – and wondering if you will survive at all. The reason I was so quickly eliminated in the game of RISK is because I approached it like I often do my real life – I spread myself out over too much area without enough reinforcements to keep all of those areas going. When the attacks came in, I could not stand alone, so I lost ground to the enemy. Currently, I feel spread too thinly over too many areas. Things are changing at work, and I’m trying to learn more roles – things that are not within my comfort zone or skill set. (Sometimes it literally makes my brain hurt when I try to wrap it around technology.) I’ve been in pain for a long time. Continual pain is exhausting physically, emotionally – and sometimes even spiritually (though I am also keenly aware that my weakness has drawn me closer to Jesus.) Yet, in spite of my weaknesses and insecurities and pain, the game must go on. The battles must be fought. The family must be fed and educated and cared for. Relationships must be nurtured. Houses must be maintained. Jobs must be completed. Meetings must be attended. Bills must be paid. The hours will march on. At times I love every part of it. At other times it feels like quite a battle.
At one point in their game of RISK, two brothers formed an alliance. They joined forces against the enemy and helped each other stay strong in their areas of dominion. The interesting thing is that this alliance wasn’t really mutually beneficial. It was obvious that one side was much stronger and offering all the protection to the weaker forces. Those weaker forces, once aligned with the other army, marched forward with renewed hope and vigor. Such is the case in my life. The only reason I am able to keep going day after day – to push through the pain and do what I must and not crumble under the weight of all the things I am not doing well is because I have an alliance with a much stronger power – the strongest power possible! When I don’t get enough sleep and have a very busy day ahead, I can look to God’s strength. When I am so tired in every way that I sob my heart out in the shower – not sure how I will make it through the day – His promises to be strong in me and for me flood over me along with the tears and hot water. When life is going well and things are advancing nicely, I know His forces of protection and blessing are all around me. I was invited into this lopsided alliance of my weakness and His strength with the assurance that He will be the victor – and He will provide an amazing life for me at the end of this life and its seemingly endless battles. Assured of victory through my Lord Jesus Christ, I fight on!
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:12-14.
“It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them … I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory, but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame. In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever” Psalm 44:6-8.