‘Once I said to God, “How do you teach us?” And God replied, “If you were playing chess with someone who had infinite knowledge and wanted to make you a master of the game, where would all the chess pieces be at every moment?” Indeed, they would be not only where he wanted them, but where all were best for your development; and that is every situation in one’s life.”
St. John said this because he knew that each one of us is meant to become masters – masters of life, no matter how many lives it takes! However, God and John also know that mastery does not mean winning as we might think. For our obsession with winning, with results and outcomes – how I think my life should be – only distracts from the goal. Because mastering human destiny means learning to fully meet what is, what is here, what is now – mastery is deep trust that everything that comes to me in my life is exactly the way it should be – exactly the chess pieces I need. Truly surrendering to what our lives are asking of us is the only way to enter God’s classroom.
And yet, so often we resist meeting what is- so often we fight against surrender. We fight against this surrender by holding on to the comfort of a warn out persona, repeating to ourselves at every juncture ‘I am the way I am.’ Or, we fight against this surrender by not allowing the blessings in our lives to inwardly touch us, clouding over gratitude with unnecessary guilt and unworthiness. Or, we fight against surrender when we fall into the obsession of questioning ‘why me’ for the difficulties in our lives, forgetting that subtle expectations of a life I think I should have, subtle expectations of a reward I think I have earned, only distract from the chess board. For Christ is not interested in reward and punishment, His only hope is for those who can become new.
Dear friends, let us remind ourselves again and again, that our lives are exactly the way they need to be. The only question that remains is for our chess pieces themselves, ‘what are you trying to teach me?’
This contemplation by Rev. Evans is inspired by St. John of the Cross and Matthew 11.