(Originally posted November 2016)
From the day Tim and I met playing Ultimate Frisbee at Eastern College, games have been a part of our family. We place high value on competition and, of course, can’t get enough of the ‘thrill of victory’!
As our kids get older, we are loving being able to introduce them to new games and show them how much fun a little healthy competition can be. Unfortunately, as is the case with most games, the experience of losing is much more common than the ‘thrill of victory’ and the majority of our matches end in tantrums and tears!
One of our favorite games of late is “Go Fish”. This simple matching game is quick enough to play several rounds in one sitting (meaning each player will likely experience both loss and victory) and it’s also an easy one for game-savvy parents to manipulate the outcome of 😉.
If you aren’t familiar with the basic rules of “Go Fish,” each player is dealt a hand of cards with the goal of finding pairs of the same number. Each time you have a pair in your hand, you remove those cards from your hand. You then take turns asking other players if they have a certain card that matches one from your own hand. If they have the card, they give it to you, and you have a match! If they don’t, they say “Go Fish!” and you pick from the pile of extra cards (which may work out in your favor if you “Fish your wish!”). The first player to find matches for all of their cards wins!
No matter what sort of hand we’ve been dealt in life, we all have areas of need. We all have weakness, struggle, pain, or just a general desire for something we feel we’re missing. None of us are perfectly complete – no matter how independent we think we are!
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading through the Psalms and realizing what a huge gift they are. These song lyrics, written by David and several other writers, give us a beautiful picture of what it means to have a ‘personal’ relationship with God. Instead of just hearing about someone’s life events, we get first-person perspective on their highest highs, their lowest lows, and their thoughts about God in the midst of it all.
One of the things I noticed, particularly in Psalms 142 and 143, was how David expressed each of his needs and then “matched” them with what He knew to be true about God’s character. David’s life experiences had proven to him that God was the only one who could truly meet His needs – so he filled his songs with these requests:
Need: “When my spirit grows faint within me” (142:3)
Match: “It is you who watch over my way” (142:3)
Need: “No one is concerned for me, I have no refuge” (142:4)
Match: “I cry to you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my refuge'” (142:5)
Need: “Those who pursue me… are too strong for me” (142:6)
Match: “The righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me” (142:7)
Need: “So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed” (143:4)
Match: “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” (143:5)
Need: “Show me the way I should go” (143:8)
Match: “For to you I entrust my life” (143:8)
Need: “The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground” (143:3)
Match: “In your righteousness, bring me out of trouble” (143:11)
Do you see how David matched his fear with God’s faithfulness, his vulnerability with God’s protection, his weakness with God’s goodness, his uncertainty with God’s trustworthiness, his injustice with God’s righteousness? And that’s only two psalms!
For every need we have, God holds the perfect match! And His desire is that we – like David – simply identify the need, express it, and then ask Him to meet it. We don’t have to “Go Fish” hoping we’ll somehow “fish our wish” from the piles of cards the world has laid out for us. Not only does He promise to meet our needs, but He promises to meet our needs in the best way possible – with Himself.
Anyone who’s played “Go Fish” before knows that the most likely path to victory is to start out with the greatest number of matches already in your hand. Getting rid of 2, 4, or even 6 of your 7 cards right at the start could give you a huge advantage!
Psalm 143:5 reminds us that the best way to have our needs “matched” with God’s character is to already have the knowledge of His character readily at hand. If you’ve been reading and studying His Word, you can “remember the days of long ago” and know that He is the same God now as He was in the beginning! If you’ve been stirring up the Spirit through worship and prayer, you can “consider what [His] hands have done” in your own life and more easily be able to see how He can and will meet your current need.
So, what’s your need today? It may feel like you’re losing, but victory may just be a simple request away. Whatever it is, God’s got a perfect match for it in Himself!
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.
The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalm 145:8-9, 13-18)
For a great resource, check out: “30 Days of Praying the Names and Attributes of God” by The Navigators