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Playing the Game

The other day I was playing Chutes and Ladders with my kids. Well, I was attempting to play Chutes and Ladders with my kids. I’ve written before about what it’s like to play a game with a four-year-old. Playing a game with a three-year-old is a completely different story. It requires a lot of patience. Playing a game with two three-year-olds requires sainthood.

Three-year-olds have the best of intentions when playing a game but a complete lack of comprehension when it comes to the rules. No matter how many times you remind them, they will not be able to anticipate who’s turn is next. They will always assume it’s their turn. They will spin a “3″ but want to move to the pretty pink square on the board.

Five minutes into the game, I found myself talking over. I dictated every move of the game. I held the spinner and told each child when to spin. I moved the pieces for them because it took them forever to move two spaces. I told them when to go up the ladder and when to go down the chutes (can we just agree that the game should really be called Slides and Ladders?). Basically I was playing the game and they were watching.

While my intention was to be helpful, my interference was doing more harm than good. By taking over, I was robbing my kids of the opportunity to play the game. They might not play the game with the same level of skill that I can. They might come across some problems without me. They might get confused and start moving towards the start instead of the finish.

But, at least they get to play the game.

I’m thankful that we have a God that lets us play the game. True, God can probably play the game a lot better than we can. God can anticipate the problems that we can’t. But if God always played the game for us we would be missing out. We might as well be watching a movie. We wouldn’t have the pain of the lows, but we wouldn’t have the joy of the highs either. More importantly we would miss the chance to ask God for help. We wouldn’t appreciate how awesome it is when God helps us with a move.

I’m glad God lets me play the game.