Your First Move

Several years ago an artist named Marits Retzch, who was also known as a great chess player, painted a picture of a chess game. This famous painting is entitled The Chess Players but is commonly called by the name Checkmate. In the painting the two players are a young man and Satan. The young man is playing with the white pieces and Satan with the black pieces. The point of the painting is that if the young man should win, he was free forever from the power of evil. But if the Devil should win, the young man was to be his slave forever. In the picture, Satan is portrayed as the victor.

In this artistic depiction, the Devil has just moved the queen and announced checkmate in his fourth move. The young man is seen with his hand hovering over his rook, his face pale with fear, and with a look of no hope. The Devil had won!

For many years, the painting hung in a gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio and chess players from around the world commonly traveled there to view this famous portrayal and, perhaps, come up with a solution to the chess dilemma, some move to help out the young man in the painting—but to no avail.

Finally, the art gallery invited the supreme chess master at that time and undefeated champion, Paul Morphy, a resident of New Orleans, to come and view the picture. After he arrived, Morphy stood and viewed the painting for some time, fully concentrating on the game before him. He lifted his hand and then lowered it several times, as in his imagination he made and eliminated moves. Suddenly, his hand paused, his eyes gleamed with joy, and he shouted out instructions, as though to help the young man in the painting, saying “That’s the move! That’s the move!”

To the amazement of all in the audience that day, the supreme chess master had discovered a combination of moves the creating artist had not considered. There was a way out—there was a solution all along. The young man in the painting could defeat the devil by following the instructions of the supreme master.

This is a good reminder for our own spiritual life. We will all face difficult situations and even forces of evil in our personal lives. Paul warns us about spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10-18. But he concludes this teaching by instructing us to, “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests…” (Eph. 6:18).

Prayer is our way of inviting God’s help to our lives in our most pressing concerns and even in our most hopeless situations. Through the activity of prayer, our Supreme Master guides us in the moves we need to make to defeat the devil and to triumph in times of adversity. You can trust Him to bring you to victory for you know that “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4). So let your first move always be to come to God in prayer!

Devotedly yours,

Pastor Ron


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