My son and I like to play chess together, and I constantly tell him this reality: “life is like chess.” In life, and in chess, you must look ahead at the consequences of your actions, both good and bad. You must look two and three moves, or decisions, ahead sometimes in order to not get yourself in trouble. Let me make this a little more real.
Some guys my age go through what is called a “mid-life crisis.” Now, before we judge too quickly it is important to recognize why. Life is hard. Responsibilities can become weighty, and if the mind wanders to the so-called “greener pastures” it is not too hard to see how someone might trade in the struggles of everyday life for excitement, passion and pleasure. However, in those moments one must stop and think …. You see if a guy, let’s say, decides to shake of the shackles of his ordinary life to pursue pleasure in and run away with a young and beautiful new women – I would imagine (and let’s be honest) for the first week it would be quite exhilarating. No responsibilities. New places. A new focus on pleasing yourself. But, at some point you would have to come off of vacation and go to work. And your new bride/ girlfriend would too. Soon you would find yourself in a new routine. You would be tired from work and all the pressures of life creeping back in and something about your almost perfect girlfriend would annoy you. There would be arguments and bills to pay and housework to do and suddenly it dawns on you that you did not leave a life of responsibility to be free.
You just traded your life of responsibility for a new life of responsibility. You need to eat, and that is a habit you can’t stop, so you need to work. But wait …. you could be homeless and not have to work. So you contemplate it. Sleepless nights freezing out in the rain, staying hungry except for the occasional opportunity to fill your stomach on the McDonald’s Dollar Menu. Maybe that is not so glorious after all. So there you are in a new place with a new wife and right back into the everydayness of routine and responsibilities. Except now you don’t have a relationship with your kids. In fact, they despise you for hurting them and their mother. You begin to experience guilt followed by his close friend shame. Your new relationship that was initially based on fun and pleasure starts to feel a little hollow and you realize what you had. You may at this point remember those days sitting on the back porch, the laughter of your children fills the air as they bounce on the trampoline and the gentle touch of your wife’s hand on yours. You may remember that she loved you, though at times imperfectly, with a depth of love that went beyond the fleeting pleasure of the moment to a deep and meaningful love that was willing to work through struggles. You remember her smile…she has a beautiful smile.
It is at this point that you realize what you have done and that you cannot go back. Checkmate. Game over. You lose. One quick move without thinking ahead and everything unravels before you. Fortunately for some, this scenario played out in their mind as they made the moves in their head and foresaw the consequences and chose differently. For others, the moves are quick and the consequences decisive. Either way, you may begin to realize that God actually knows what He is talking about when He tells us not to divorce, not to commit adultery, but instead to enjoy the wife of our youth. Forgiveness is available in Christ, but the consequences of our choices will linger for years to come. That is the beauty of seeking God and His direction. He loves us more than we know, and He knows what ultimately brings us joy and what leads to great sorrow. He asks us to trust Him in this.
It is not usually popular and does not always make sense to those around us o deny ourselves and trust in God. Our culture pushes us to believe that you are worth it, you deserve to be “happy” no matter what that looks like and go for what you want. It is interesting that God says the opposite. Seek to please God, to love others, to be last … and you will be first (Matthew 6:33; 22:38-39; 19:30.) It is ironic isn’t it? If I lose my life for the sake of my Savior, Jesus, what I am promised is real life (Matthew 16:24-27). But “the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God’s sight …” (I Corinthians 3:19). Yes, life is like chess. So in the words of the great philosophers Flight of the Concords – “Think about it, think, think about it.”