Lent: Day Sixteen

I finally finished my presentation and sent it off. To say that a burden was lifted off my shoulders is an understatement. My mind is both exhausted, yet free, at least until the next encompassing demand takes root.

We had friends over for dinner tonight and afterwards we played cards, contract rummy. Playing games exposes all of my weaknesses. I am, by nature, very competitive and games bring that out as well as putting stress on all of my social systems and Christian resolve. I both love and hate playing games. I love it because it helps me gauge my progress in sanctification. How I handle disappointment is significant and shows my growth, or lack of it, in grace and meekness. I hate it because my lack of growth is all too evident all too often and it is painful to have your weaknesses on display.

Fortunately both these friends and my wife understand that and their longsuffering compassion has been one of the important fields of my instruction. I can see growth, not as much as I would like, but real growth none-the-less.

That is one of the reasons I have always appreciated competition. It is an artificial and controlled environment that puts every decision you make under stress. It exposes your weaknesses and gives you a chance to deal with them in a guarded environment. If you fail, well then you have the next game to correct the problem. It is like the crucible of life but more controlled, more limited, and most importantly, more protected.

Tonight my wife won twelve of the possible sixteen hands. It was an unbelievable run. It was also very frustrating and it tested my graciousness to its limits. Several times she went out on her second or third play, sometimes even before anyone else had a chance to lay down; once one play before I was going to lay down and go out on my second turn around the table.

Everything we do in life, every action, every decision, is an opportunity for God to teach us something about ourselves and to give us an opportunity for growth and assessment. I believe it is important both to take advantage of those opportunities, whenever they occur, as well as to create situations, like with games, that give us controlled learning experiences. That way, when the hard situations come upon us, and they will, we will be prepared for them, already tried in the learning experiences we have taken advantage of.

Grace and peace to your day.