Tuesday, October 1, 2019

All the Right Moves


Matthew 10:39
Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time know that my husband, Danny, and I love playing backgammon together.  We routinely engage in a best-of-three match every evening after dinner.  This practice has most definitely honed my skills, but there are still moves I miss from time to time, and that can cost me the win.  Danny is kind enough to point these out, after the fact, in hopes I'll become a more astute, competitive player.

But no matter how many moves I memorize, there is a random factor involved - the dice roll.  Those arbitrary cubes can make or break a game.  And lately, they have not had my best interest at heart.  How exasperating for someone like me who likes winning (don't we all?), and I can become downright petulant when mired in a losing streak.

I am venting, self-righteously, to Danny after blowing game after game, when he gently reminds me, "You never get any better by winning."

Now, does that ever take the wind out of my sails!

Because it's the truth.  Don't we learn more from our mistakes, our failures, than we do from our successes?  I'm envisioning most of you shaking your heads in the affirmative.

So, if we're willing to learn from our losses, doesn't that count as gain?

In light of Jesus' words in Matthew's gospel, yes, it most certainly does!  When we cling stubbornly to our wants, our needs, our desires, our ways, refusing to surrender them to God's will, we will surely lose everything.

But when we give every facet of our selves, our souls, to Jesus, only then can we become the persons God created us to be.  A Christ-centered life assures us that, as children of God, there are no losers.

Only winners.

No, we will never get better by winning our selfish worldly game.  But when we submit our lives to Jesus, He'll help us make all the right moves for His sake.

And unlike the dice roll, Jesus leaves nothing to chance.

Amen!

36 comments:

  1. "But when we give every facet of our selves, our souls, to Jesus, only then can we become the persons God created us to be."

    The problem is, we cannot let go. We want to be in control of our lives, our destiny, (whatever that is). It is the way we have been created. God knows that.

    He cannot expect us to give every facet of ourselves to Him; yet at the same time give us free will.

    You raise a very difficult subject here, Martha, that is not easy to comprehend. I, and probably others, have struggled with it. Does God want me to trust Him TOTALLY, or does He want me to make my own decisions in life. Where is this fine line between the two positions we're to take?

    Great post. I'd love to hear yours and others points of view.

    God bless.

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    1. Victor, I don't think fully submitting to God curtails our free will. In my view, it frees us up even more to do what we want to do, but for all the right reasons. You have raised some deep and thoughtful questions here, my friend, and I pray the discussion will continue.
      Love and blessings!

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    2. Thank you Martha and Bill for your response. I agree, it is a fine line between total trust in God and our free will to act as we think fit or right. The problem, I find, is that God does not often speak in English. Very often it is not clear what He asks of us, how He wants us to act, how we are to use our free will. A choice is presented in life, but it is not clear which way is His way. Which way to go.

      God bless.

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    3. Victor, in my view, that's where prayer comes in, and lots of it. We can, in our free will, make poor choices, no doubt about that. And discerning God's will for us is not always an easy row to hoe. However, we must be persistent in our prayer for guidance, that we will do what God requires of us.

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  2. I love playing backgammon but Jo won't play with me because she says, "I'm mean." What she is really saying is I put her in the middle if I either a) need to slow her down or b) have my pieces where i want them and it will be difficult for her to get back in. And yes, I like to win. But I also like your application Martha.

    In response to Victor: it is a fine line but total surrender means just that. But even then we are endowed with free will so that we can choose whether to yield or fight. Total surrender, in my mind at least, is a daily struggle. That is a small answer to a big question.

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    1. Bill, I must confess that I've accused Danny more than once of being mean when playing - when you look up "competitive" in the dictionary, I promise you'll see Danny's face. Lol!
      And I have to agree that total surrender is a daily struggle for most of us, myself included. But it is in those moments of surrender that I feel myself both whole and healed. God's will, not mine, be done.
      Love and blessings!

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    2. Thank you Bill for taking the time to respond to my comment. I have replied above.

      God bless.

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  3. This right here, Martha --> 'Don't we learn more from our mistakes, our failures, than we do from our successes?'

    For sure! The victories are oh so fine ... but it's in the tough spots that we realize how much we need the Lord and how much He pulls us through ... and how much He loves us.

    The victories seem to pale in comparison to the realization of Who our hope comes from.

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    1. Amen, Linda! It is often in those times of "losing" that we most often feel God's comfort and presence in our lives. He is our hope everlasting, and victories do pale in comparison.
      Love and blessings!

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  4. I am starting to get concerned...
    This is the 3rd time I have read or heard something involving failure in the last few days...

    The first, I don't remember the specifics, but was on a movie I was watching with my daughter... A phoenix must burn to emerge.

    The second was this quote Sunday morning -
    "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new" - Albert Einstein

    It is true, I do learn more from my mistakes.
    It is also true that I must be willing to give something up to take on something new. Perhaps failure is just a way of "cleaning house" for the next new thing... Allowing something that God is directing sounds like a good trade.

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    1. I love what you said here, Ryan, about failure being just another way to clean house for the next new thing that God wants to present to us. And I hear you about being concerned - whenever I run into a concept repeated on more than one blog, for example, I feel that God is communicating something to me if I have eyes to see and ears to hear. So, maybe it's time to pay close attention?
      Love and blessings!

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  5. Amen! Sunday morning, our guest pastor raised the point that resistance (challenges, setbacks, etc.) actually allow us to grow. https://travisma.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/the-necessity-of-stress/

    I love hearing how Danny gently coaches and encourages you!

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    1. Your guest pastor was spot on, Mevely. We can't live a full life without those setbacks that, essentially, allow us to grow in the long run, especially spiritually.
      Yes, Danny is a VERY patient teacher, that's for sure. Even last evening as we played, he offered some insights. What a slow learner I am!
      Love and blessings!

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  6. Amen! Good application to Danny's wise insight, Martha. I love his calm coaching approach. :) Love and blessings to you!

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    1. He is the best, Trudy, no doubt about it. He has taught me the game from the beginning, and still continues to do so with patience. It's a lot like how God deals with us - infinite patience and unending love.
      Love and blessings!

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  7. Oh, Martha! This one hits home (you have a knack of that). My hubby and I compete playing Jeopardy! The only way I can beat him is based on the fact that I usually read the questions quicker than he does :) He has caught on to this, however.
    Your post is such a great reminder to learn from our mistakes and losses.
    Thanks, sweet friend!

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    1. How cool that y'all play Jeopardy together, Beckie! We played a lot together when MIL was living with us, as she adored that show and Alex Trebek. Although I'm sad she's gone, I'm grateful she wasn't alive to hear about his battle with pancreatic cancer - that would have broken her heart.
      May we ever learn from our mistakes, and let those lessons help us to grow even deeper in our spiritual journey to the heart of God.
      Love and blessings!

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  8. We all want to grow, but we aren't always willing to pay the price of letting go or giving up or even losing in order to achieve that goal. Thankfully God is very patient and kind with us and with the disappointment he often shows us the rainbow of His promise and blessing when we open our eyes up to Him and see the bigger picture. Great post with a lot of thought!!

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    1. Pamela, you are so right. We all say we want to grow in our faith and our commitment to God, but then the obstacles appear, and instead of trusting in Him, we want to pout and retreat from the fray. We need to remember always that we are His children, and in that knowledge, we are ever winners, participants in the ultimate victory that Jesus has secured for us. May our eyes be open to the bigger picture God wants to give us.
      Love and blessings!

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  9. Hmm...I need to hear this advice, Martha. I recently played Yahtzee several times with my friends over the weekend, and I lost every time. ha. But maybe that will make me better. :) Or at least keep me humble!

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    1. Well, if nothing else, Lisa, losing does keep us humble. And isn't that the best posture with which to approach the throne of grace? God will always turn His "zeroes" into "heroes" if we let Him. All we need do is trust in Him with faith and hope.
      Love and blessings!

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  10. I have never played backgammon before and have no idea how you play it. But I like your analogy of winning/losing and how we learn much more from our failures than our successes. I also am glad of the fact that Jesus leaves nothing to chance.

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    1. I'm so glad that Jesus leaves nothing to chance, too, Diane!
      Backgammon is a pretty complicated game, and it takes patience to both teach it and learn it, but it's fun when you do. :)
      Love and blessings!

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  11. Great post! Danny is right--losing helps us to strive to be better. As for me, I play games that are not about skill, but luck. We all have a fair chance then, and I don't have to be so serious about a game.
    Blessings, My Friend!

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    1. You are so right that we are all on a level playing field when it comes to games of luck, Loralu. And not having to employ a particular skill set does take the competitive edge off. You can simply sit back and enjoy!
      Love and blessings! (By the way, I did beat Danny 2-1 last night!)

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  12. Your Danny is a smart man... but you know that already! Joe and I used to play Cribbage most every evening. Not sure when we strayed from it and not even sure I remember how to play. It was fun though! God bless!!

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    1. I was taught cribbage when I was a child, but I can't recall how to play it either. Just remember how much my uncle loved the game! And yes, I'll have to agree, that Danny's one sharp guy, Terri.
      Love and blessings!

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  13. Danny sounds pretty wise to me. Great line to hold onto in all the games we play!

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    1. Amen, Jean, it is a line to hold onto, that's for sure.
      Love and blessings!

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  14. Great post, Martha! We do tend to learn more in the hard times, rather than the good times. And yes, we do gain much by surrendering to the Lord. Surrendering to the Lord is always the best plan, not easy, but the best. The Lord always has our best interests at heart.

    Love and blessings!

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    1. God does have our best interests at heart, Kim, that's for sure. We do have so much to gain by surrendering, by losing our will in His. I pray every day to turn over my sinful and willful nature to His mighty hand.
      Love and blessings!

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  15. I never thought of it that way, but that is so true that we don't learn anything by winning. Wow. I am going to have to ponder that. That makes my blunders seem so much more justified. At least I am learning something. God bless you and your husband for sharing this wisdom!

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  16. Sorry to leave a 2nd comment, but may I add your husband's wise quote to my quote page on my blog? If so, can I verify that his name is Danny Orlando? I wouldn't do it without his permission and accurate name. :) I'll try to remember to come back here to look for your response, or you are welcome to email me, too! :)

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    1. So glad you enjoyed the post and the message, Cheryl! Yes, of course you can use Danny's name on your blog - he'd be thrilled! And you do have his name correct, my friend. :)
      Love and blessings!

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