To a small child the game Chutes and Ladders offers excitement and drama. With one hundred squares to move across, the object of the game is to be the first to get from Square #1 to Square #100. Complicating the trip is the random possibility of landing on either a chute (which can send you in the wrong direction) or a ladder (which can move you ahead faster).
As a metaphor to life, the game doesn’t make much sense. If Square #1 represents our birth and Square #100 denotes our passing … I really don’t want to beat anyone to the end of this game!
But to a follower of Jesus, the ‘life version’ of Chutes and Ladders is a bit more difficult to determine winning and losing. God’s version isn’t about getting to the end of life the fastest, but of attaining the purpose for which you were created. Fast advancements … jumping over adversities … making breakneck speeds through life – these are only part of God’s plan. Sometimes we move back a bit and that messes with our plans, sense of entitlement and understanding of the game of life.
Consider: landing on Square #28 (a ladder square) takes you ahead to Square #84. What joy! What a chance to gloat a bit over others who are still muddling through the low 20’s. But then, just three squares ahead (should you roll a ‘3’) lands you on a chute square and you find yourself back down on Square #24. What hand-wringing sorrow … how embarrassing!
However, if God has anything to do with the timing issues in our lives, we must ask some vital questions instead of threatening to pack up our game and take it home.
Why does He have me back here on #24? Is there a lesson to be learned? Is it another opportunity to ‘get something right’? Is there someone back on #24 who needs my love, encouragement or instruction? Am I teachable enough to learn a lesson I missed when I was here last?
We must never assume that what appears to be and feels to be a ‘setback’ is actually a backward move as far as God is concerned. He maintains the right to move me about the board at his discretion … to be used as He sees fit.
So, besides not necessarily wanting to get to Square #100 before any of my peers, I choose to place my life and its ups and downs on the One who wrote my life’s biography before I was born.
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (and our Chutes and Ladders!)
Proverbs 16:9 New Living Translation