Game Not Over

     “The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” (Psalm 84:11)

A story has been told by Christian speakers as far back as 1955 when Billy Graham told a variation of it early in his ministry.  Two men were wandering through a museum gazing at all the works of art when they came upon a depiction of two individuals locked up in a game of chess. One of the people in the painting looked like an ordinary man, but the other character appears to be the devil himself. The title of the painting is “Checkmate.” The impression of the man in the picture is that he is in a hopeless situation, that all is lost. One of the two observers, a chess champion, studied this painting at great length while his companion became impatient and asks what he’s looking at. The chess champion tells his friend to go on ahead as he wants to study the painting a bit more because something is bothering him. A little later, his friend returned and the chess master said, “I need to contact the artist who painted this piece. He either needs to change the painting or change the title.” When his friend asked why, he replied, “It is not Checkmate. If you look closely at the painting it becomes clear the king still has one more move.”

In his use of this story – Billy Graham concluded: “I believe there is One looking down from above who looks upon the board and says to you and me: There is a move, there is one move that you can make, and you can win! That move is toward Jesus Christ.” This concept is mirrored throughout the Bible. There you will find the story of a lame man who had to break through several barriers to overcome the apparent checkmate which had placed in his life (Luke 5:18-26). First there was the physical barrier of paralysis (Mark 2:3) and, secondly, there was the inability to access Jesus because of the large crowds. So “they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on” (Mark 2:4). Jesus healed the man spiritually by forgiving his sins (Mark 2:5) and also restored him physically (Mark 2:11). Whatever it took, this man was determined to get into the presence of the true King and not allow himself to be placed into any discouraging circumstance.

Caleb was facing the checkmate of advanced age. Every one of his generation had died except for his friend, Joshua. For many long years, he had held onto the dream of the promised land, remembering the mountain that Moses had professed would belong to him.  He declared, “Now, as you can see, the LORD has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old . . . So give me the hill country that the LORD promised me” (Joshua 14:10,12). What if Caleb had given up his dream? There seemed to be no end to his wilderness journey. He could have become hopeless and abandoned his vision. He could have given up his dream too soon, right on the brink of his miracle. Caleb serves to remind us that there will be times when we find ourselves in a spiritual desert, wandering around in circles in the wilderness. When this is the case, it is important that we keep our focus on the vision of our mountain. For the promises that God makes have no expiration date; He will not force us into checkmate.

If you are like most people, you will repeatedly come up against situations where it seems like all is lost and the enemy has won. There are many fences in life that will appear to create a checkmate condition, preventing you from experiencing God’s intention for a full life. If you are to advance these possibilities, then you must press beyond the limitations hindering your next move. As we search God’s Word – we will glean wisdom, strength and encouragement. We can see that no matter what obstructions were confronting God’s people, He always showed them that they still had one more move. There is a miracle in the making for you, if the King is present in your life. If you open your heart, He will meet you where you are right now. The game is not over, my friend. There is yet another move to be made.

REFLECTION: What are the negative circumstances that have you trapped and make you feel as though you are in a checkmate situation? Recall a time when you felt like you were a failure or were out of options. Would you be able to share a story with others as to how the King has stirred your life at a time when you felt like you were defeated and had no more moves to make?

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