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So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart;                                                        and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.” (Psalm 78:72)

Bobby Fischer is known as one of the greatest and probably the most controversial chess player of all times. At the age of six, he and his sister learned how to play chess using the instructions from a set purchased at a candy store.  When the sister lost interest and his mother did not have time to play, Fischer was left to play many of his first games against himself.  Once when the family vacationed in Long Island, Bobby found a book of old chess games, studied it intensely, and became a self-taught student of the game. Fischer’s interest in chess became more important than school, and as his abilities were noted – he became a member of a chess club. He won the US Junior Chess Championship as the youngest-ever Junior Champion at the age of 13, thereby gaining national notoriety. Years later on September 1, 1972, Fischer defeated Russian champion Boris Spassky in the most publicized world title match ever played.  Bobby Fischer of Brooklyn became the first American World Chess Champion since it was established in 1866, allowing the title to pass out of Russian hands for the first time in 25 years.  Fischer was once quoted to have said. “All that matters on the chessboard is good moves.”

There are thousands of different chess moves waiting to be played. For the novice player – it may be difficult to know whether the move you are about to make is the right one. However most good players are not only anticipating their current move, but they are also strategizing about the road ahead. A player who simply makes the moves he likes and hopes to win by random tactics usually succumbs to the opponent who has a plan behind his moves. When I thought about the concept of personally making every move a good one, my mind reflected on a recent walk I took with a friend of mine.  The walking path which we use is along a stream in a local park, highly populated with geese and ducks. Many folks from the area stop by the area to feed the ducks.  This is fine, but when they do so – they frequently scatter their scraps over the walking path.  In their obliviousness, they create a ‘hang out’ location for the various foul who not only eat but also ‘eliminate’ on the pathway. I remember smiling to myself, thinking that being cautious where we walk is very typical of life itself.  If we don’t look ahead and anticipate our next move, we can unexpectantly find ourselves stepping right into a real mess.

As followers of Christ, we are called upon to guard our every step as well. We must set an example for others, realizing that even an inconsiderate act or opinion can cause another to falter.  It would be a bad move, for instance, to express a universal condemnation regarding divorce to a perspective church member and later learn that the person to whom you spoke it came from a divorced family.  The Apostle Paul put it this way: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister” (Romans 14:13).  Faithful Believers learn through time that life is not a game of chess. While it is prudent to carefully consider each move before we act or speak, long-range plans are really in the hands of God. Most of us will convince ourselves that we have the strategic plan for our lives when, in reality, we often do not.

The only way we can tell the difference between a good game plan and a bad one is through our time with the Lord.  We want to be confident that the voice we are hearing is His. Jesus spoke this parallel: “The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice” (John10:2-5). The more we remind ourselves that God establishes our steps and plans, the more we can confidently follow Jesus and trust that as we take each move – He’ll direct us. In a game of chess, the skillful player soon learns that developing an endgame strategy is important. The Old Testament scripture counsels us to “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3). When we master this, we will have learned how to make all the right moves in life.

REFLECTION: Are you careful to weigh your actions and thoughts in the midst of those you do not know well? Do you listen for God’s voice and test the spirits (1 John 4:1) before you make important decisions?


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