Once upon a time there was a grand chess master who was bereft of ego and pride. He would play anyone who wished to test their skill, from novice to expert. One day a particularly determined young man sat opposite the grand master, determined to beat him. The grand master smiled when the young man made his first move. He had obviously been studying. It was a well known move and easily countered by the chess master. With each move the young man made the master responded with thoughtfulness and expertise. Soon the young man was checkmate. They played again and again. Each time the young man employed different moves, different strategies, and on each occasion the master responded generously and wisely. They played twenty games that day and on each occasion the chess master won quite comfortably.

When imagining how God can be said to be in control of his world some people him as the author of a play, writing the script of our lives. Others imagine he a member of the audience, watching us write our own script. Both options seem difficult. The first appears to rob us of our freedom, the second of God’s involvement.

Perhaps a better image is of a chess game between a chess master and a novice. The novice moves his pieces around the board. He follows some basic strategies he has read about in a book. Some of his moves are foolish. The master responds with great expertise and wisdom. His moves are not pre-programmed, but a response to the moves of his opposing player. Without even knowing it, the Master weaves the novice’s moves into his game plan. And of course, the outcome of the game never in doubt.

Perhaps God is the Master and we are the novices. We make our choices freely, sometimes very foolish and harmful choices, but the Master responds with wisdom, reacting in such a way to ensure that our moves are coordinated into his overall strategy. And of course the outcome, a new world, is never in doubt.

Source: Scott Higgins, based on an idea found in a Philip Yancey Christianity Today article.