Scrabble is a pretty big thing in my family. It’s a generational thing. I grew up playing with my parents. I now play with my kids. We play on this board I’ve had for decades. It was the first to come out on a turn table. Before that, (youngsters) some people had to actually sit on the wrong side of the board and work upside down or sideways.
I am good at scrabble, in a big-fish-in-a-small-pond kind-of way. People that regularly go to tournaments crush me. And people who spend lots of time playing Words with Friends. But, to be honest, and I hope you won’t be offended, I consider most Words with Friends players to be lacking in a certain artistry. Most Words players have figured out a tremendous of cache of words they don’t know the meaning of, words that conveniently fit into tight spaces and which offer high scores, words they would never use in ordinary conversation. And so, lovingly, Words With Friends champions, I look down my nose a little bit at you.
Having offended half of my 4 readers, I should probably just keep return to my point.
When my kids were younger, we adults used to offer them some concessions to keep the game interteresting. For many years, they got 9 letters while we only get the standard 7. (That’s a much more significant advantage than you’d think.)
Recently, I realized I hadn’t actually won a scrabble game against them in quite some time. The 2-tile advantage failed at keeping the game interesting, as the kids skills grew.
There are all kinds of ways, of course, that we make games interesting when in competition those that have less skills than us. It’s not a new concept. As limited and finite individuals we give limited and finite advantages to our opponents to level the playing field.
I think there is some theological relevance here.
I am not saying that life is a game. But I am saying that there are a wide variety of reasons that we end up placing ourselves in oppositions to God.
And there is an interesting way in which God progresses.
If I was God, I would use my God-brains to instantly and uncompromisingly wipe my opponent quite utterly off the board.
Chess? I’d have mate in 5 turns.
Basketball? It would be like 5,000 to 0.
Uno? I would go out, and the other guy would have to count all the wild draw 4’s against him.
Boxing? A knock out before the other guy even leaves his corner.
You get the point.
Those kind of victories are certainly with God’s capacities.
But that’s not usually how God wins.
The cliché “He snatches victory out of the jaws of defeat” isn’t nearly strong enough to express it.
This is both a stretched metaphor and a little gross, so I hope you’ll forgive me this… But it is more like he Reigns suddenly victorious out of the very bowels of defeat.
Jesus died. He actually died and went to hell.
The other side actually won. For a time.
This is how God rolls. In playing chess, he would lose. But then the king would re-appear. And somehow where it reappears would place the other player in check mate.
In basketball, the final buzzer would ring. The game would be over. But then the judges would find that they missed calling a foul shout for Jesus. And they would a never-before-used rule, that said, in this one case, successfully making the foul shout would mean instant victory.
In Uno, the other guy would think he put his last card down. And then he would look, and he would see another card in his hand, and another, and another.
In Boxing, Jesus would go down. But then the other Boxer would realize what he’s done. He’d realize boxing is a dumb and barbaric sport, and he would give up boxing forever, before the ref reached the 10 count. (Hey! I have managed to offend boxing fans and Words With Friends fans in the same post!)