I have never been a graceful loser.
As long as I can remember, I’ve always had a hard time NOT being the best at something, whether it was mini-putt, Monopoly, or anything involving athletic ability (read: lack of).
And apparently age has not really improved me much in this area, as evidenced by last week’s epic game of Risk with my husband.
That is, last week’s epic loss to my husband.
If you’ve never played, Risk is a world conquest strategy game where you deploy troops across a world map, and with every turn you have to choose if/where to attack and where to reinforce troops. Battles are fought with rolling dice, so there’s a fair element of the game left completely to chance (hence the name, Risk).
I was doing well for most of our match, but Josh had a couple of good turns and ended up taking over a lot of my territory very quickly.
Eventually it became clear he was probably going to win, so (in the true spirit of my eleven-year-old self) I sulkily gave up trying to play well. He then was able to completely dominate the board very quickly.
It was our prayer & fasting week with Anchor Point and I was finding myself thinking a lot about contending for things in faith. The morning after the game, all of a sudden I realized something profound.
My attitude towards God exactly mirrored my attitude toward the game I’d lost the night before. I had given up because I expected to lose.
In the game, I had given up quickly. Josh pointed out that I had wasted some simple but strategic moves where I might have been able to recover some territory and turn things around.
But instead of pressing on and fighting for victory, I had sunk into passivity and inaction.
I felt so convicted by this revelation and felt like God was putting his finger on something. This wasn’t about a stupid game or my sour attitude at losing it.
This was about my heart attitude in general.
If I don't guard myself, there is a passivity inside of me that comes from believing I am on the losing side. This passivity prevents me from taking strategic opportunities that are right under my nose.
Passivity prevents me from seeing the next strategic step.
At the same time, my attitude determines my capacity to receive from God.
My faith is a container that God is always wanting to expand SO THAT I CAN RECEIVE MORE FROM HIM.
Guys! Come on. Do we see this? Do we really get it?
We can talk about faith as a gift, but let's not forget it's a gift that gets refined and stretched, and that needs exercising to become stronger. God hasn't given us an inflexible block of wood kind of faith that we just kind of plunk down wherever it seems to make sense. Rather, he's given us a new spiritual muscle inside that we are called to work on building, with him.
God’s sovereignty doesn’t mean I just roll over and expect him to drop everything in my lap. Somehow, mysteriously, my faith and his sovereignty BOTH WORK together to accomplish his will.
This kind of relationship is so evident throughout Scripture. God wants his people to step out in faith and trust him in the impossible moment.
God doesn’t always make things super obvious. He's not obliged to make it obvious. And he's not obliged to make it easy for us. He's only obliged to make it happen.
He doesn’t always lay out a picture of what exactly is going to happen, or how things are going to work out.
He just assures us that he’s in control - and that he’s worth the risk.
His kingdom come on earth is worth the risk.
This is where I feel challenged, and this is where I would challenge you.
There come moments in life that are pivot points of decision. From time to time I believe God presents us with these pivot points in order to challenge and stretch our faith - so that he can entrust us with greater things.
In those kinds of strategic moments, we have a choice to make about how to act.
We have to dig deep for our expectation.
What do we believe he wants us to do - not necessarily what “makes sense” to do - but what is HE himself asking and requiring?
And then, we have to choose to put energy to our expectation.
We have to choose whether to step forward by faith, to take action on what we expect - or just stop moving completely.
That choice sets the tone for everything that follows.