Two men had been friends for many years and enjoyed many stories and adventures together. They had a set time they met together to talk and compete with each other.
At these meetings there was always a plan. Many times the plans were postponed because of a good laugh together, or reminiscing on how times had changed and how much older they were.
The men were both married and had tried going as couples but decided it didn’t work out. They couldn’t talk freely and openly as when it was just the two of them. Besides, both were very competitive and they couldn’t really compete properly with their wives there.
The heavier of the two was always better with strategy while the other was more athletic and usually won in those activities. Because of that, they let weather and energy dictate which activity or challenge would take place, for there was always a mental score kept of who was ahead. The athletic friend became injured and was not able to compete like he normally would. The heavier friend enjoyed pointing out his victories in the recent physical matches as if it was something momentous. Annoyed at the recent losing streak, the athletic friend decided that it was time to work on his strategy and logic skills.
He began by studying at the library on the game of chess and reading various methods to win the game quickly. It took some time, but he started to understand much better the idea of planning ahead. Confident once he consistently won matches against his younger son, he moved on to countering popular offenses and delving into more on the strategy of defense. He planned to completely annihilate his friend, no matter what approach he took in the game. He discovered that this was more difficult and complicated than expected.
His uncle became his new favorite opponent, for he never used the same approach and required a lot of skill. He read a lot more about strategy and tried them out on his uncle. He rarely won against him, but learned more by losing than he expected to. He had always found winning in athletics to be natural. He had never expected to thank someone for winning, but this soon became the norm between them. His uncle was in a care facility and seemed quite pleased to have a regular visitor. Before this common bond, the two had struggled with anything to relate on, and he had rarely visited.
Over the next several months the heavier friend found that although he suggested strategy games, his friend seemed to prefer games of chance to strategy. He didn’t prefer these very much because he believed there was little skill involved. After just a few games, the man had enough. He felt no sense of accomplishment in winning when none of it depended on him. After some debate, they agreed to play checkers, which was nothing like the strategy games they had played in the past. The heavier man decided his friend was tired of losing since his injury as he dominated on all fronts.
Intending to give his friend the win, just this once, the heavier friend took a few risks in the checkers match. He was surprised at how quickly his friend noticed these mistakes and capitalized on them. He was even caught off guard in a move and was genuinely surprised by it. Perhaps checkers was the game for them after all, he decided. He realized there was no need to hand his friend the win; he might lose even with his best effort. He changed tactics and found new energy to delay what appeared to be his inevitable loss. Although he gave it his best, he found that in checkers his friend was an admirable opponent, or maybe he was just lucky that day.
While discussing their next meeting, the injured friend suggested that they play chess because the weather was bad. He had been anxiously waiting for this day, and was very excited to try out his new skills and knowledge. He felt like a man with a secret weapon, like his favorite spy character in the movies. He dressed with just a little more flare that day, and smiled just a little more when he saw his friend from across the room. Less than twenty minutes later, both men stared at the board in wonder. Check mate already! It appeared that preparation had more than paid off.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
In this story I wanted to reflect on a weapon, hidden from view.
In Matthew 4:3-11 we read about the tempter and the tempted battling it out. For each attack Jesus used God’s words as the weapon and each time the enemy doesn’t question the quote or argue further, he moves on to a new attack. In the second temptation Satan even used scripture as his attack, but is again defeated with scripture. I noticed that in this spiritual battle Jesus chose to use information we have access to as well. The Bible is a book that defines life lived in submission to God and under His guidance. It gives rules, but it also tells stories. These stories help us understand what life looks like in relationship with God and are the reason for my parables.
I could tell my son that there is danger in getting to close to something hot, but if I tell him a story about someone who got too close and was burned he understands it. That is what the Bible does, it tells us the best way to live and the best way to fend off the enemy who celebrates when we are miserable. Just as he did with Jesus, this enemy attacks us at our weakest moments; promises fulfillment, power, and acceptance; and calls into question a being better and bigger than ourselves (God). Knowing we have that enemy, I am persuaded that knowing the Bible is the way to go. That can be a challenge because a lot of it is a spiritual war and spiritual reward and not something tangible.
Stories make sense to us; we can step into the skin of the characters and in a way try out a new point of view or think of things in a new way. In the Bible we are told and shown in stories that we have a creator and a destiny. Having a purpose matters even if you don’t believe there is a God. It may be easy to scoff or say it is an old book and doesn’t matter…but was it read with an open heart? The most moving and trying experiences of our life don’t resonate with anyone unless they open their heart and listen. I guess I’m saying that if you started in Genesis and stopped at Leviticus like I’ve done it might be time to examine the heart, and give a powerful weapon another chance. That’s my desire and intention here, to simply dive in and let God tell me truth, to examine myself, and to learn about who this God of the Bible is.