I went on a mission grip to Turkey a few years ago where I noticed many of the men sitting playing backgammon. I noticed similar trends in other countries on previous travels and had always wondered how to play the game. When I got back to the UK I decided I was going to learn, so I downloaded the game to my iPhone and taught myself to play.
I like the fact that it’s a game of both chance and skill and that the result is fairly unpredictable. Often times I think I’m going to win only to get beaten right at the end. Other times I’m convinced that the way things are going I’m going to lose and debate with myself whether to forfeit the game only to win before I concluded the argument.
I won’t try to teach you the rules and strategies here but the lessons learned are worth airing. You see, I see a parallel to life. Getting a good or a bad start in life doesn’t necessarily dictate the way your life will end up. Sure the circumstances of our birth and early life have an impact on the rest of our lives – more usually on our material circumstances. But perseverance, hard work and the choices we make affect us much more.
I’d like to end up being rich and happy but if I had a choice between the two I’d choose happiness. Now that I’m older I can see clearly that it isn’t the house you live in, the car you drive or the holidays you take that make for happiness. I know plenty of discontent people who score highly on these stakes. What really counts is contentment, relationships and integrity.
The way we live, the choices we make and the ability to persevere through the difficult times are things that make us who we are. It applies to the spiritual realm too. There are loads of verses about this in the Bible. Here’s just one – “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5
When I feel like giving up, running away or just opting out, I remember my games of backgammon.
National Director, OAC Ministries