Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Game of Life (09/11/08)
TITLE: Game Plan
By Beth Muehlhausen
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A seemingly obscure path currently lies before Ellie. She must navigate a Game Board of nebulous moves from a launch pad somewhere between squares labeled Retirement and Day of Reckoning.
Earlier in the Game of Life she thought her goal to be the pursuit of Education and Career, and in optimistic moments, the title of Millionaire Tycoon living on Millionaire Acres as far from the Poor Farm as possible. It was the American Way. She also planned to marry Mr. Right, bear and raise Children, buy her own Home, pay her Insurance Premiums on time with no Overdue Notices, survive Tragedy, buy Stock Certificates, and maybe Strike Oil or even be blessed by a Lucky Day. She would dodge Bankruptcy, steward her Resources, and then Retire and head for the Golden Years.
Much of that is behind her now - all except the Golden Years.
You see, Retirement coupled with her husband’s Serious Illness recently sent Ellie back to a financial spot closer to the beginning of the Game. Shocked by sudden adrenaline waves, she still resolved to wear a mask: No Biggie. But in reality, Ellie wondered about many things - the unknowns, her own health and waning energy levels, responsibilities and yearnings and bills.
She began investigating a straight-shot path, one common to Chutes and Ladders, toward a resource where yet another Career or at least some sort of spot in the Workplace might show up: the internet.
Bewildered by the input there, Ellie stood on her new square and blinked in surprise. It all happened so FAST! She sighed out loud and paced in the smallness of her Game Board’s square.
“Have I truly been transported back in time? What do You have for my future, Lord?”
Today Ellie is nearing sixty while surfing the web to explore job opportunities. She cries out to God for wisdom and greater measures of love to shower upon a grandchild born with a debilitating chromosomal deletion. She hopes to continue to support a house-for-sale-in-a-dead-market that has been listed for sixteen months as well as house-for-retiring-and-entertaining-extended-family that needs to be paid off. Her husband struggles with a degenerative heart condition, and recently his disability insurance company denied any further payment. Her own chronic health issue threatens to stifle optimism and crush her spirit.
And yet Ellie knows she has no choice but to recognize it is, in game lingo, her turn. It is her turn to Believe even though she may spin like a top until a God-given direction comes up to point the way. Perhaps the Golden Years will push the Pause Button if she can just survive the Obstacles and Detours, find ways to be productive and engage with the Journey, and refuse to lose sight of Hope.
Ellie wonders about this new phase - one more amidst a history of definitive eras – which will renew her faith in a God who owns promises that have no end. She knows His gaming strategy is the only one worth trusting, and surely all the new yet-to-be-defined squares ahead will allow her to give Him glory and honor and praise.
Sometimes though, Ellie longs to slam the Game Board shut and put it to rest forever in its well-worn, skinny cardboard coffin-of-a-box. She wants to quit playing. It would be easier to retreat and distance herself - the disclaimer being one of inadequacy - or, more ideally, to die and pass on into glory.
But she knows that is not God’s dynamic vision. He will continue to require her to hop (or crawl, stagger, or boldly stride out, depending on the circumstances) from square to square, one small step at a time, and trust Him for courage to tackle the next step … and the next … and the next. Will she obey? Will she choose Life over Despair?
Ellie knows one thing defines the supernatural version of the Game of Life: the Creator’s redemption of human uncertainty and insufficiency. Providence can and does purposefully sweep away whatever has become familiar with one swift stroke of change when it is least expected. Ellie must continue to progress within the parameters of His provisions, from His strength to His strength, and run the race put before her with dignity and love for the Maker of the Game.
In her words, “He’s the Game Man with the Game Plan.”
He’s the author of the Game of Life.
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