Monday, July 16, 2007

Games People Play

Yesterday afternoon, Vic and I decided to take my Mom and Dad who are both in their early eighties miniature golfing. It was for them a new experience.
I think they had fun !
There is something universal in the enjoyment of playing games.
Here are some of the pictures I took of them at Giggle Ridge Golf Course. (click on photos to view full size)

I was thinking about how much of our society’s time is taken up by games. Whether it is table games, outdoor games, team sports, computer games, on-line games ---- we never seem to be far from some kind of game.

It has been proven that children need to have time for creative games. It teaches them how to do life… how to determine values of fair play , how to make decisions and choices and how to relate with others, dealing with consequences and acting out real life scenarios.

I wonder if we as adults need and enjoy games because they allow us to ESCAPE life.

The older we are the more opportunity we have had to create for ourselves hectic and complicated life situations.
We have made choices that resulted in consequences we would have preferred to avoid.
Each of our actions has a dominoe effect that continues down through the years.
Life has taken twists and turns that leave us feeling frustrated, discouraged or overwhelmed.
We would love to ‘fix’ or ‘redo’ some of them, but life is always in forward motion….. there is no reverse button, no delete button and no way of starting over!

But in games we can!
Every game is a fresh start, an opportunity to overcome our opponents, plan a skillful strategy that will hopefully end with us being the winner!!
We can in a fun or playful setting work out a suppressed desire for risk taking or even aggressive competitiveness. We have the intrigues of life with none of the risks or consequential burdens.
If we win, we feel the emotional rewards and the congratulatory affirmation of the other players.
If we lose we have the consolation it was only a game, the loss will soon be forgotten and we have the assurance that in the next game we could easily emerge the winner!!
Games are not only a good release, they are also a catalyst for fellowship and bonding, providing a few pleasant hours for friends or family!

The games we play are a fun and enjoyable pastime -- and --- they present several learning parallels to the much more serious game of life.

1. A game is just that --- a game that is put back into the box when we are finished playing and both winners and losers are forgotten!

In the real game of life……..we play for keeps.
Decisions and choices today affect the consequences of tomorrow, not always with the desired outcome.
We miss a ball, and can’t redo the shot.
We are off balance and make a careless move that redirects our coarse.
We take a risk and lose.
Sometimes we forget the rules of the game and sometimes we cheat!
Winning and losing is not always clear.
At no point in the game of life can we pack it back into a box….once we enter the game of life we must continue to ‘play’ - until we are declared either a winner or a loser.

“Who will render to each one according to his deeds,- eternal life…..
or indignation and wrath………”
(Romans 2:6-8)

2. There is no quicker way to spoil the fun of a game than to have the players refuse to play by the rules!!

In life God has laid out the rules. If we ‘play’ by His rules we will enjoy the blessings of life….but ignoring or disobeying the rules will result quickly in ruined and unhappy lives.

“You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commended you that you may live and that it may be will with you and that you my prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.” (Deut. 5:33)

3. One bad decision regarding a move or play can result in a player losing the game.

In real life too, one wrong choice can set you on a road of destruction.
Every drug addict started with one joint!
Every drunkard started with one drink.
Every liar started with the first lie.
Every adulteress affair started with a lustful glance!

”…the little foxes that spoil the vines… “ (Song of Sol. 2:15)

4. One careless oversight of an opponent's strategy can put you in a losing situation that is sometimes impossible to correct.

So too, in the game of life, the enemy is every watchful to find a foothold to ensnare his victim.

“Lest Satan should take advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices!” (II Cor. 2:11)

5. In any game for there to be a winner the game must be completed!

In life we too must persevere until the end to be declared victorious!!

“But he who endures to the end shall be saved!” (Mark 13:13)

6. I have often found that in playing games you learn to know what a person is really like . The game becomes to them symbolic of their actual success or failure as a person – and they will do what it takes to make sure they win!!

Real life has a way of pressing people to reveal their true self. We are tested and stressed and aggravated by the annoyances and circumstances we find ourselves in ----and we react!!
There is a constant battle between the spiritual and the carnal --- between the preservation of self and the striving to be crucified with Christ!!

“And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate (exercising self-control) in all things. Now they (who play earthly games) do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown!!!” (I Cor. 9:25)

7. I'm sure we all have, when teaching our children to play games sat with them and coached them on what move to make or which card to play. When they win as a result of our help, their childish delight is not diminished in the slightest because they listened to a wise coach.

The game of life is so complicated and so involved with so many variables and possibilities it is impossible for anyone to win without a coach. And truly we have the best Coach there could ever be!!

Not only has Jesus already ‘played the game’, He designed the course!!!

He knows every single move possible, every play of the opponents, and He can ensure our victory !!
All we have to do is trust Him!

“Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith ……” (Heb. 12:1,2)

How is your 'game of life' ?? Are you winning?


Lovella said...

Oh good lesson today.
I really enjoyed seeing the pictures of your mom and dad. What a treat to have them included in todays devotional.
I was reminded about one time when we were playing croquette with some cheaters. They told us from the start that they would make sure they would win. At first we tried to still do well, but after a while I noticed I didn't care. The outcome was already decided so the point of the challenge was gone.
There are just so many good life lessons out there, if only we just pay attention.

ps . .they really had never played mini golf? My parents played that so much with their grand kids.

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