Monday, March 14, 2016

In Atari

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." - 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

Go is a fascinating game. I have been looking at strategy and terminology for this game the last few days and God has been ministering to me through it. Because it is a visual game it is hard to describe. Unlike chess you don't have different kinds of pieces that move with different rules. All of a players pieces look the same. Modern go is played with white and black pieces. It is a pattern game where you take territory and surround your opponent. If you surround your opponents piece or groups of pieces then you take it or them off the board. You can place a piece anywhere on the board that is not already surrounded by your opponent. In the end whoever has the most territory wins.

If a piece or group of pieces is almost surrounded is in what is called 'atari'. It is much like 'check' in chess. If you are in 'atari' then you need to make a choice. You can move to block so that your opponent will not take your territory or risk losing that piece or those pieces to your opponent.  Each move is very important because once you put a piece down it can't be moved and your opponent then takes a turn to move.

The concept of 'atari' made me think of the above passage. God gives us a way of escape and that way of escape links us to Him. Once linked to Him we can't be surrounded and taken. We may look trapped by a situation but our presence in a place is a claim Heaven has staked on that territory.

If you have never seen this game or heard of it what I'm saying seems strange and disconnected. I didn't know very much about the game before this weekend.

Imagine with me that each minute we are given is like territory that is taken or lost. Some decisions link us to large territories such as careers or long term relationships. Then image how vital it is to connect to God so that we will not be swallowed up by darkness. Perhaps the details of life are the enemy to the vision we have for our family or for our desire to make a difference in our community or our world. We don't want to be surrounded and taken. We have seen people who once stood for something but their territory is gone now.

If we connect to God we can rest. We will never be swallowed up. God's kingdom has gates that Hell can't penetrate.

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." - Matthew 16:18-19 ESV

The last part of that passage has been widely misunderstood. If we proclaim God's Heavenly policy on Earth it is backed up by His kingdom in Heaven. We bind and loose here on Earth that which has already been bound and loosed in Heaven. God's attributes are expressed in His policies and His policies involve grace, mercy and forgiveness.

I'm praying for a few people today. They look trapped in 'atari' and have few options but I know with God all things are possible. The bondage of the moment is something God will use to set them free. I pray that these situations would result in great victories and that God would be glorified.

Connecting with God has such value. It is beyond what we can see or understand. Grace has removed all barriers. We can come boldly to His throne today. It is a passage that God will never block off. Thank You God for the way of escape. You are our strong tower. In you we have eternal victory. All who know You praise Your name and You are worthy of our praise.


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