God or Grandmaster…

Ben Schoettel   -  


Quotes from Sunday:

“Jesus was sent to bring HOPE. Pause long enough to RECEIVE IT.”

“Hope is CONFIDENT EXPECTATION in the person and promises of JESUS.”

“Reasons to re-center hope… Jesus is making ALL THINGS NEW. Jesus is WITH YOU NOW.”


Has anyone ever heard of the great Alonso Zapata? Yeah… me neither… at least until I searched for the shortest ever defeat of a grandmaster in chess. Alonso defeated grandmaster and world champion Viswanathan Anand in 6 moves. Anyone that takes the game of chess to the level of seriousness that these professionals do knows that the key is to think 5 moves (or even up to 10 moves!) ahead of where you currently are on the board. Simply put, chess is a game of formulas, anticipation, and ultimately trying to manipulate the one on the other side of the table to go along with your path to victory. In other words, your current decisions are based on your future hopes.

I think in a lot of ways life can be viewed as a game of chess. If someone is making short-sighted decisions all the time (not at all thinking ahead) it usually leads to less than ideal results. But as I read through the call of Mary in the Advent story, I couldn’t help but to see how upside-down Mary’s circumstances and responses were in comparison to our “chess-like” patterns of going through life.

From what we know from biblical history, Mary was an obedient and humble person of faith. She was chosen for that reason. But if we place ourselves in Mary’s sandals, her role in redemption was probably not what any of us would hope for ourselves. If we were writing our own Mary narratives, our personal hopes and dreams would be the victory at the end of our right moves. After the angel declares to Mary “you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!” we would like to fill in the next blank with whatever our hearts desire. Instead, Mary is given a “with great obedience comes great responsibility” speech. That doesn’t feel much like a reward, does it? And then fast forward to seeing your son who you have sacrificed everything for now dying a cross while you helplessly watch. Doesn’t feel like the hope that was sought 20 or 30 moves earlier, does it?

I think what rooted Mary in her obedience and faith is because she did not view God as her rival grandmaster at the chess board of life. Her hope was not found in what she could get from God if she made the right moves, her “favor” was that her faith was being recognized as a part of the redemption of the world that was now coming through Jesus!

So, when we look at this biblical idea of “hope” in Jesus, don’t see it as a chess match. It’s not “I hope this move gets me the life I want” or “I hope this move convinces God or others of my value or love.” Prophesies in the Bible are not individual requests being fulfilled. They are glimpses of God’s good will for all of creation. Our hope is that things MIGHT go MY way, it’s that we get to see that things ARE going to be as they should which is GOD’S way (Jesus.)

In a season where most are anticipating what they are going to get for Christmas, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to bring contentment, and remind us of what Jesus is continuing to freely give us, His redeeming love. And let’s walk in obedience to Him (not in opposition of), one move at a time.