Chess and a Barrel of Monkeys

I am a planner. I have always been a planner. Planners believe that planning will save everyone from unexpected problems and any kind of waste. We don’t like wasted time, wasted money . . . wasted anything. So rather than risk losing time or money or anything else, we believe that everyone should step aside and let us think through the situation at hand, and plan for every potential obstacle, thereby solving all future problems. It’s simple actually. And, though we probably wouldn’t say it out loud, we’re pretty sure that God really likes us more than folks who just “wing it” in life. (Actually, sometimes we even feel sorry for those who don’t seem as “gifted” at planning – the poor guys – always being surprised by one situation or another. It’s sad really.)

Planners live by the belief that lost time, energy, money, etc. are evidence of some kind of error on their part. They believe that proper planning wouldn’t have allowed those errors to occur in life.

Planners spend time meticulously planning for every future event (important and insignificant events) believing that it will allow them to enjoy this future event more fully if all the potential problems have been thought of, worked out and solved ahead of time.

Planners live life like a chess game – THINKING about each move for hours (or days, or years) before actually making any kind of move  .  .  .  .  and they’re gonna KEEP their hand on that chess piece for a really long time before they let go and actually commit to the move.

The problem is . . . God really doesn’t look at all of our planning the same way we do. What we like to call “planning” is really just an attempt to control everything in our lives. We think that if we carefully keep an eye on as many variables as possible, we might eliminate the errors, unexpected surprises and losses. And, while a certain amount of planning and control can be useful, spending all of our energy to keep life “controlled” doesn’t honor God. That’s because at the root of control, we always find fear. We “plan” or attempt to control all of life’s variables because we’re afraid that any errors might cost us more than we can pay – or we’re afraid that the unexpected events might be painful – or we’re afraid that we might actually lose something or someone. Fear.

Fear is not faith.

Fear hangs out with doubt and worry and anxiety.

Fear keeps us bound, deceived and blinded.

Fear disrupts the flow of the miraculous.

Fear isn’t comfortable with the unexpected.

Fear gives the enemy control.

Fear makes no room for childlike faith.

Instead of spending our lives in planning sessions, fearful of errors and problems, maybe we could trust that God is more than able to turn our errors into something beautiful. And He wants to. (Isaiah 61:3)

Instead of spending time endlessly planning for some future “event”, maybe we could just relax and believe that God “knows the plans that He has for us” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Instead of living life like a chess game where we are afraid to make a move without big goofy amounts of planning, we could enjoy life more like a game of a Barrel of Monkeys. . . not a lot of planning required – just reach in and pull out a monkey. Maybe there will be another monkey attached to the one we pull out – or 2 or 3. Maybe we should just play the game and let God deal with the unexpected monkeys that show up in life. (2 Chronicles 20:15) He is in the game too, so there’s no need to worry. If a monkey falls off the monkey chain, He can handle it. We’ll get another turn. God is still God and He is on our team! (Romans 8:31)

It’s true. Most of us try to “plan” and over-“plan” because we fear loss, painful circumstances, and failure.

The problem is . . . God really doesn’t look at our failure the same way we do. We see it as the end — just more proof that we don’t deserve God’s blessings or attention. But, failure is God’s favorite terrain! In our failures He has the chance to show His awesome mercy, grace and forgiveness. Our mistakes give Him opportunity to come to our rescue. Grace isn’t just some holy-sounding Bible word. Grace is God’s on-purpose decision to love us, comfort us, save us, heal us, deliver us, and prepare us for the kingdom even WHILE we are still sick, lost, deceived, sad, clueless, unfaithful and mostly undeserving. That’s GOOD NEWS! We don’t have to plan it all out perfectly because He already has. We don’t have to leave the game every time we make an error or experience failure because He’s got it covered. We don’t lose our claim on His promise of grace (if) when we goof up. The truth is, it isn’t until we make a mistake, fail at something, or take a wrong turn, that we even qualify. Only sick people need doctors; only thirsty people need water; only mistake-happy relatives of Adam and Eve need constant forgiveness, second chances, renewed minds, strength, softened hearts, deliverance, comfort, joy, etc., etc., etc., – AKA – grace.

The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. (Psalm 37:23)

I will make known to you the path of life. (Psalm 16:11)

I know the plans I have for you. . . (Jeremiah 29:11)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. (Psalm 32:8)

I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. (Isaiah 48:17)

The One who is all knowing and all seeing – the One who is the beginning and the end – the One who created it all for His own perfect purpose – the One who has counted the hairs on our head – He has already planned every detail and is always in complete control — so we don’t have to be.

Bring on the Monkeys!


7 Responses to “Chess and a Barrel of Monkeys”

  1. Joelle Says:

    Great post mommy!

  2. darnelle Says:

    Thank you Girlie! I’ll try not to take so long to post again 🙂

  3. amandagraeser Says:

    Darnelle thanks for this post. I never realized how much a “planner ” I was. Maybe an add planner, but a planner all the less. The sad thing is that I feel like I have lost alot of joy in my life because of it. Well my friend, today is a new day. I too am ready for the monkeys! I no longer want fear to run my life. I am looking forward to your next post. Have you ever thought about writing a book. I would buy it!

  4. Amy Says:

    Wow, Preach. That was awesome. I had to laugh, especially the beginning when you were talking about planning and the poor guys. I am totally a planner, which a rare thing for an artist. But I always have to be careful to balance planning things and letting God. I am pretty good about making quick decisions though. Organized Caos is a good way to look at it I guess.

  5. Jamie Says:

    Goodness! That was an amazingly stupendous sequel to your first post, and although I’m not much of a planner.. at all or much… .. I really did get something from this! Keep it up! (I now know where Josh gets his skills!) :]

  6. Amy Grant Bayliss Says:

    Preach girl!

    That was truly awesome! I really needed to hear it.

    I miss ya. I hope you are doing well!

    btw.. I have your Saxon manual. I need to get it back to you. ;o)

  7. dan ohlerking Says:

    wow. just found ur blog today. amazing thoughts – I love chess and apparently I live a little too much like as if life is a game of chess. I do try to see all possible reactions to my actions before I make the decision to act – far too often. and u bet I hold on to the piece and look the board over a dozen ways before comitting. it is just control and that is just fear. and living in fear will take all the adventure out of life.

    thx for posting this.

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