You know those scenes in movies with the large family all gathered together with a board game, laughing, teasing each other, playing stuff like Pictionary where there’s lots of ribbing and shouting and just good old fun?
Okay, picture that same board game, but take out the laughter, and add a little blood, some sweat and a copious amount of tears. Insert arguing, keep the teasing, put an edge on the laughter, and delete the fun. Now you’ve got Family Game Night at our house.
We love each other, no doubt. We study together, cook together, and agree on selections for Family Movie Night. Some days we’re around each other 24/7. We take family road trips, read books aloud, play piano duets, root for the same teams (sometimes), and generally believe in “We all go down with the ship.” But when it goes to Family Game Night…I feel like casting lots, hopping on the Ark with the winners, and praying for the folks left ashore.
My little people are just a competitive bunch. They believe in playing by the rules, and board games just bring out all the warts in all of…well, I’ll say “them” and not “us” because I try to take the high road (emphasis on try). Yet, no amount of refereeing, shh-shing, and redirecting helps; when we whip out Taboo, Pay Day, charades, Be Sincere, Qwirkle, and other group games, sparks fly. Rule enforcers become rule benders. Peacemakers turn into peace breakers. I can roll dice with Think Tank in Acey-Deucy or place Blokus tiles with Hubby and Crusader; Songbird and Maven will laugh over Apples to Apples and any of us can wage War with TD or contort our bodies in Twister with Brown Sugar and Lone Ranger. No sweat, not a peep. But put us all together at the kitchen table around a square board, some die, and an hourglass…? We could charge admission and pay a referee, because we’re taking it to the mat.
But don’t many of us struggle to play nicely, whether around a board game or in a board room, in Sunday school or a classroom, on the road or within our own four walls? We bicker in our church committees, coveting the star power of the queen and tsk-tsking the production of the worker bees. We talk about other parents and their choices. We step on the toes of folks in our quest to stand by our own principles. We don’t help, pray for, or reach out when a friend is in need or hurting. We fight with our brothers and sisters—born of the blood or also saved by His blood—because they have something else, more, or the same as we do. We use social media and our social standing as a platform to broadcast our rights and wrongs. We discipline our children for the same choices we continue making. Basically, we can’t forgive, love, or simply play by His rules: “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31) “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
Really, life isn’t a game; we shouldn’t fret about going directly to jail and not passing go or amassing the biggest pile of money. We need to remember that none of this belongs to us—not our talents, our homes, our work, our families, or our very life. It’s all God’s, and He doesn’t play around.
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask…Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God…But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:1-2, 4, 6-8)