God has interesting ways of teaching me. If you’re looking for Him, you’ll find Him everywhere.
As I was strolling down the campus sidewalk on a mild Texas afternoon at Baylor University, I came across a life-sized chess board. I had passed by this board before but for some reason on this day it caught my attention and I decided to sit on the bench right beside it. There were no pieces on the board, probably because students would steal them if they were there, or because students had already stolen the ones that were there (just because it’s a Baptist university doesn’t mean all of the students are angels). I sat and reflected.
I was facing a particularly challenging and painful portion of my journey. There was a lot going on in my life. Most of what was happening didn’t make any sense to me and lots was changing. In that moment, I felt God urging me to think about the chess board. I imagined that I was one of the pieces on the board. I pictured myself as the knight because they look the coolest with that whole horse-thing going on… “What do you see when you’re on the board?” God asked. All I could think about was that from my vantage point the game would look like chaos. I’d be getting moved in every direction and faced with situations that looked grim. The other people would be getting taken out all around me. It would look like disorder and smell like death.
Then God prompted me again. “Now, elevate the perspective. What does it look like to the one directing the pieces?” … Hmm… From that viewpoint, it’s a strategy. There is order, a method, and a purpose to each and every move. There is a very specific plan and when the chess player is good, it leads unto victory.
The lightbulb went on for me. It’s so difficult for us to make sense of life when we’re in the middle of it. All we can see is what’s right in front of us. It looks chaotic. We experience deep pain, there can be tremendous confusion, and the situation will often appear terribly bleak. But when we elevate our perspective and ask God how He sees it, we see Him executing a precise and calculated plan. As humans this insight usually occurs long after a situation is over and we finally say something like, “Oh! That’s what You were doing there,” or “that’s why You wanted me to learn that lesson,” or whatever the hindsighted epiphany is. God always knows what He’s doing. It’s up to us to trust the Master in control of our life. In Romans 8:28 Paul reminds us that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.” So even in the midst of what looks like a hopeless situation, God sees the end from the beginning and He’s working it out for His glory. He is good.
What’s even more than this is that God understands what we’re going through. He sent Jesus to earth to dwell among us… the King came down to be on the board with us. He knows what it’s like to go through the challenges of life:
“For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are – yet He did not sin.” ~ Hebrews 4:15
The good news is that Jesus didn’t stay on earth, but rather He was crucified and was raised from the dead. Now He’s seated at the right hand of God and He’s the One directing your life when you choose to follow Him. The Author and Creator of the universe is sovereign over our every circumstance and He always leads us in victorious triumphant procession. This truth is worth repeating: He knows what He’s doing. Trust Him with the process.