Friday, June 26, 2009

A Game of Blokus Anyone?

Last weekend we learned this addicting new board game called Blokus. The gist of this 4-player game revolves around the strategic placement of various shapes in an effort to both consume your own and block the placement of your opponent's. The game is played on a square board divided into 20 rows and 20 columns, for a total of 400 squares. Each player has 21 various shapes made up of one to five squares. When play begins, each player must place their first shape in one of the board's four corners. On subsequent turns, each shape must be placed so that it touches at least one piece of the same color, with only corner-to-corner contact allowed—edges cannot touch. The game ends when either a person uses all their shapes or no more moves can be made by any player. If no player has used all of their shapes, then each players counts their remaining squares. The person with the least amount of squares is the winner. It is one of those games that from the surface looks quite simple yet is chock full of strategy.

There is one aspect of Blokus that I find particularly interesting. During the game players carefully plan out each move, paying close attention to how each of their shapes will fit on the board as they proceed forward. Many times this planning goes for naught as other players block your path across the board. These blocks make the game particularly challenging (and frustrating) because you had thoughtfully mapped out the perfect plan to utilize all of your shapes and win the game. But here is the fascinating part. Sometimes the block of other players will be to your benefit several moves later. All of a sudden, you will recognize a whole new path that was not initially apparent. What was once frustrating and challenging now rewards in a way not thought possible. Ironically, your opponent was the one who opened this new pathway.

Blokus can be a nifty parallel to our own lives. We plan, and we plan, and we plan some more. We convince ourselves (and we are pretty persuasive too) that we are in control and have mapped out the perfect plans for our lives. Hey, we know our heart's desires and identify that which is most favorable for us. For that reason, we deem ourselves as most qualified to arrange our own lives accordingly. It is a trap in to which we all fall. To the contrary, when we are identified with Christ, we learn to allow the Lord to live His life through us. To that end, we lay all of our hopes, dreams, and desires before Christ's feet and travel down a road that He has cleared. Much easier said than done, I will be the very first to admit. Yet, as we begin to surrender our plans to Jesus, He will sometimes block the paths we are heading down. It is during these times that we are most prone to argue with God. We want to know why, especially when our plans seemed so appropriate to us and maybe even to those around us. Still, God may not immediately reveal to us the why of our interrupted but seemingly good intentions. Similar to the game of Blokus, the paths God blocks will many times channel us into something more rewarding and profitable to us. We then look back on our life and see God's hand orchestrating each and every detail and realize He is the One truly in control.

In my own life this is so evident. I would not have my wonderful wife and amazing kids nor a career that fits me to a tee had God not intervened in a way only He could devise. As I reminisce about these things I thank the Lord that He is control and not me. Knowing that the Lord will certainly block numerous plans in my future, I hope that I will remember that He is faithful and therefore fully surrender all my desires to His perfect plan. I should say that the Lord will still block certain paths even when we are not surrendered. But when we consciously lay every detail of our life before the Lord, it is all the more evident Who is doing the blocking-The One and only Who is qualified to be our All in All.

In essence: God blocks, we trust, God leads.

Here are three verses that sufficiently drive this point home:

He has blocked my way so I cannot pass; he has shrouded my paths in darkness.
- Job 19:8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
-Proverbs 3:6

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
-Isaiah 42:16

1 comment:

  1. I like Blokus...and I really like the comparison. I also like the thought that your "opponent", who is so easy to dislike in the moment, if given the chance, can open your eyes and world to other paths and opportunities not otherwise observed until pushed there. Look forward to taking you on one of these days!