1 Samuel 23:28-29 (The Message)
So Saul called off his pursuit of David and went back to deal with the Philistines. That’s how the place got the name Narrow-Escape. David left there and camped out in the caves and canyons of En-Gedi.
The police officer walked up to me. I was a little out of place. I was sitting in the center of downtown Atlanta playing chess with a homeless man. The officer said, “You know you’re playing with the Chessmaster, don’t you?” I said that I did and I knew I was out of my league. Actually, I wasn’t. He had opened with the king’s pawn and, when he did, I knew that I could hold my own with him. Had he opened with the queen’s bishop’s pawn, I would have immediately conceded.
My most athletic endeavor in high school was playing on the Chess Team. I was too skinny and too short and too shy to play on any other team. Chess suited my introverted nature. In the years since, I’ve ventured into a few computer games but when the computer opens with anything except the king’s pawn, I’m going to lose. But when we were on a mission work team to Atlanta’s homeless, we met some of them in the city square where the homeless had this chess paradise. Just because they’re homeless doesn’t mean they’re stupid. I had played a homeless man in New York City when I had been there with the youth and he had beaten me soundly in three straight games. I thought this might happen in Atlanta. But I held my own.
If you’re looking for the ideal Christmas gift, you might consider a chess set but you’d better get it now. This is because of the Netflix show “Queen’s Gambit” which is about a chess prodigy and it has gone viral and sales of chess sets are up over 1000 percent. When the crusaders brought chess back to Europe from Persia, the game caught on. The church was concerned that it was so addictive and had no religious significance. So it replaced the sailing ships with bishops because they are right next to the king and queen (hence the political power). This is why bishops move on the diagonal; as a sailing ship might tack into the wind.
The chapters I’m reading in 1 Samuel are about the conflict between Saul and David. Saul attacks, David flees. David can do Saul in, he opts for a stalemate. Saul has the upper hand, then something happens to distract him. It’s one big chess match. Life is one big chess match, too. Like chess, if we go on the offensive without regard for safety, it’s not going to go well. As we continue to deal with this virus, we have to move carefully. Letting our guard down, even for a moment, can be dangerous. We are constantly torn between what we want to do and what we should do. So often they conflict.
So....move carefully. Weigh your options. Practice love as it’s supposed to be practiced. Wisdom and restraint today will be rewarded in the days that come. In case you’re wondering, I beat the guy in Atlanta; but only because he opened with the king’s pawn. It took two hours...and in that two hours we went from being strangers to having respect for one another. A homeless guy in Atlanta; a privileged pastor from North Carolina.
I guess I might have to watch the Queen’s Gambit.
Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends, in thy conduct, His likeness shall see.
Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.
Pastor Rick Moser