There is a kid's game called Chutes and Ladders. I have played it as a kid and played it with my kids. The idea is that is a path and at the end of the path, is the fact that you win if you get there (preferably first, but at all would be good). Along the path, there are ladders that shorten the game by allowing the player to climb the shortcut. Also along the path are chutes that basically derail the moves forward by sliding you backwards and putting you further behind. You are always in play, but it is not always your turn (very important detail). At the very beginning of the game is a really big ladder that is maybe 6 blocks into playing but takes you immediately to the top and allows you to win. I think hitting that ladder would be a long shot but some are lucky. I think our lives are like chutes and ladders. We would like to finish well but the ladders and backsliding chutes are so busy remaking who we are that sometimes the goal is just to catch up with those we are in "play"with or encourage those that fell behind. I remember when our daughter Caylyn hit that early block with the big ladder and went straight to heaven. It was hard to celebrate her win for a while. But eventually we had to wake up to the awareness that we were still on the board. A board filled with chutes. Occasionally I get a ladder, but am finding it hard to trust that extra boost, figuring I am destined for the chutes because the enemy whispers in my ear, that chutes are what I deserve. Despite my discouragement some days I know that I will win the game. I have been promised the ultimate reward just for having played and trusted....that my reward is with my Maker. As for the chutes, I have to realize that perhaps there is something in there that is not about me, but that someone "back a few spaces" may need my encouragement. Perhaps there is something new to learn critical to the next move. And the chutes are designed to make the gift of the game last longer...which believe me, it definitely at least FEELS longer on those nerve-wracking challenges. I know that God can use the side tracking to his accomplishments. Jeremiah 29:11 tells me "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." I trust it because He says it. I feel it as a peace inside my soul, that my life heads toward the will of God, even amongst what feels like downward slides. Just as I misinterpreted that there could be joy of our child's departure to glory, I surely misinterpret what looks like derailing in my every day life. Psalms 32:8 gives me this message from the Lord "I will guide you along the best pathway for your Life. I will advise you and watch over you." Just one of a zillion promises to care for the steps we take when we seek His will.
Lord, give me the wisdom to be patient to your rules. It is your "game" and I am only in it because you created me in the first place. I want to find the joy and excitement in knowing you are indeed guiding me. And honestly, I cannot wait to see you at the end of this life. Congratulating me on finding my way, catching me as I run, a winner, into your kingdom. In the meantime, allow my life to be an example to others in the game, so that they too, may be a part of the happy ending. Protect this wild journey with surprise twists and turns, never a surprise to you. Chutes and ladders is not a game for sissies and whiners, is it?