The Mister is nearly perfect in everyway, except for one….he hates to play games. Early on, I figured out that he would rather succumb to ancient Chinese torture, sit and chat up any elderly lady in the room, or even clean up the kitchen than to have to play games. I, on the other hand, love games and could play for hours. Monopoly, Charades, Trivial Pursuit or Uno, I’m up for it. I do have issues with cheating to win, but that is another post for another day. People love games or they don’t. People play games or they don’t. Those of us who love game playing can often move the games from the card table into real life where manipulation, plotting and power moves take on a while new meaning.
Worse yet, we often play games with God, as if He is a willing player in our self made strategies. We delude ourselves into thinking we have leverage with The Creator and bargain with Him as if the air we breathe does not come from His hand. Sometimes it looks like this……..
“We both know my motivation but I will ignore that and dazzle you with my fabulous, spectacular efforts at Christian service” game. This is a favorite of life time Christian who were born again in grade school. Those of us especially proficient in “Christian-ese” can look pretty impressive to the stander by. We know how to use phrases like “missional living” or “God is so good” that our hard hearts fool even God Himself….or so the game goes….
“If you_____ I will______” game. In this game we strike up a bargain with a God who can be easily swayed. We impress Him with our promises of holy living. We pledge to give up our beloved pet sins, we offer up commitments of mission trips, or faithful church attendance. We make Him so beholding to us He has no alternative but to grant the request of our hearts, such deep spiritual things, like job promotions, or healing for a variety of ailments. And we believe in this game that our God can be bought and sold with trinkets of our service.
“It’s not fair” game. This is the game in which we decide He is an unfair bully and we will just quit. I’ve played this game many times. In this game, I remind Him of my many sacrifices and then compare them to my most recent circumstances. I point out in this game that He has been unfair, the trade off is no equal and then it’s His move. I sit and wait for Him to move and make the playing field equal. I set the timer and threaten to walk away from everything if He does not change my world before the grains of sand run out.
God walks around the game board and look at the pieces I have so carefully setup. He sees the stack of cards, and watches me roll the dice. With no warning at all, He flips the entire board and it’s pieces off the table, letting them roll under the couch. He is not a game player. He will not engage in my childish reasoning. In His eternal compassion He tenderly rips the list of rules that I have asked Him to abide by. He refuses to wait His turn.
Yes, God refuses to play my human games. He is the blessed controller of all things ( I Timothy 6:15) and will not be limited or controlled. He will not be manipulated by my promises or tears.
And in the end, I am forever grateful. Because He knows my inability to keep a promise. He understands what is best, not what is fair. He wants my heart, not my service. He does not have time for games when conforming me to be more like the Son.