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Devon and Sean have discovered Chess.
On a cold evening a few weeks ago, I remembered how much fun Ben and I had with chess.
So I introduced Devon to the game. When I walked in the following afternoon, Devon had already taught Sean,
and they were energetically "discussing" while playing. It appears they already are planning two/three moves ahead.
Sean calls those "traps" that he has set - and loves immediately pointing out his stealthy moves.
I do not have the heart to tell him a good chess player does not provide advance warning.
"Big brother" Devon, however, has no compunction against telling Sean what (or what not) to do.
So I got down to their level and helped Sean quickly tie Devon up in knots. I admit once in a while Dad enjoys showing off some intricate planning. They laugh and of course think their dad is the smartest chess player around.
It is great to enjoy the evening lying on the floor playing with the boys.
Once bedtime comes, the boys always demand a "Bible Story" before they go to sleep. Probably because they know it is their last line of defense - the only thing that will forstall "lights out" and "no more talking".
We've been through the Bible a few times chronologically. I like to linger on the Old Testament stories.
I think they facilitate a foundational understanding of God's character.
A continuity of purpose displayed in His dealings with people from the beginning of time.
Anyhow - this time around we have arrived at Joseph. In prison, falsely accused by Potiphar's wife - uh... that took a bit of delicate explaining to a five and seven year old! And now the dreams of the baker and butler.
"Oh - I know that story" I hear right away. Possibly because it is an easy "fill in" story when I am too tired to remember, or too lazy to check which story comes next. Probably also because they have seen the dramatized version. In some ways it would be easier if they hadn't. I'm not telling a story about a movie ...I'm telling a story about history.
Devon helps me out: "Sean - remember - the movie wasn't real... that's just people acting the story".
So I continue: "And Joseph told the butler - You will be out of prison in three days. And please, please when you get out, then tell Pharaoh about how it's not fair that I am in prison."
Sean blurts out "What about Pharaoh's dream?". "Yeah" - Devon chimes in - "Pharaoh dreamed, right?"
I realize that for some odd reason the boys didn't recognize the gap in between the butler's release, and Joseph's meeting with Pharaoh. Hmmm... How to teach them...
"Well guys, this is how it happened. Do you think it was fair for Joseph to be in prison?" "Nope. giggle giggle" "Do you like unfair things?" "Not me. I hate it. Today Deven took my..." "OK BOYS... stop and listen now!"
"Joseph hated it too. It hurt alot. But he didn't fight back. He just did the responsible thing - remember last night we were talking about responsibility?" "Yeah.. yeah..."
"And he depended on God to take care of him. And now he thought, Finally I can get out of here. Maybe that's why God helped me interpret the butler's dream. So three days went past - and sure enough, they opened the door and let the butler go free. What do you think Joseph was thinking all that day?" "That he was going to get out!"
"Yep - and go see his dad again, right? Well... the whole day went past - and the butler forgot. So Joseph stayed in prison. And the next day the butler forgot again. Another day in prison. Every day Joseph waited to get free, but nobody came to let him out. It wasn't until a long, long, time later that Pharaoh dreamed - and THEN the butler remembered Joseph - and told Pharaoh about him."
So the boys weren't totally sure where I was going with this, but then I asked them: "Do you think Joseph thought God wasn't helping him - when the butler forgot, and he was still in prison?" "Probably" "And what was Joseph's plan,
do you think, if he got out of prison?" "To go home to see his dad" "Right. So if the butler remembered right away - and Joseph's plan worked, and he got out of prison to go see his dad, then what about later - when Pharaoh dreamed - Joseph wouldn't be there to tell Pharaoh what it meant, and Pharaoh would never have made Joseph so important."
All I was getting at this point was an "Uh huh" from the boys - so I tried another tack.
Hey guys - remember when we were playing chess? I have a lot of plans right? Could you ever win?
"Ben could maybe beat you..."
"Well, maybe he could... but imagine if you were playing chess with God. Could you win then?"
And they "got it" immediately. "Ho Ho... No Way... God would have too many plans" (Devon).
"Infinity Plans" (Sean likes the word infinity).
"So who had better plans - Joseph or God? Which was better: Go see his dad now, or become Prince of Egypt later?".
"God's pretty sneaky" Sean declared (a high compliment in his five year old mind).
Suddenly I realized the perfect follow up questions (ones I do not have answers for... yet.)
"What if God had listened to our plans, and cured Jaymun's cancer the day he was born?"
And even better... "I wonder what is next in God's plan(s) for us?"
Tonight we pray with the words of a five year old...
Thank you God, for "infinity sneaky" planning better than us.