The tension in the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife. A single key play could make one partnership a ton of money, but certainly lead to the bankruptcy of another. Or if the second partnership got the play, the first’s control would be broken. I’m getting ahead of myself.
The almost-six-year-old in our household came up with a unique way to play Monopoly—yes, the board game for ages 8+. It’s his latest game fixation, and he thought of a twist: partners. I’m sure the game has been played that way, but it was new to us. And hey, why not humor the boy. It was guys against girls: grandson and Papa vs. Grammy and mom. As partners, we shared our properties and money—both income and expense. As one might guess, playing Monopoly is typically a multi-evening event. So we began play the other night, mostly just buying up every property we landed on, and it was pretty tight. The girls got three of the four railroads, but the guys’ partnership finally secured the first monopoly—Boardwalk and Park Place!
If you’ve played the game, you know those two properties are the most expensive and can be the most lucrative. However, since they account for only two spaces on the board, players can pass by them fairly easily. Even if we invested heavily in houses, should the girls secure a three-property monopoly, they could quickly add houses, get a hotel, and bleed us dry! Oh, and I ought to mention, those three railroads helped them tremendously as the game rolled on. Nevertheless, at the end of our first evening’s play, the guys had a couple houses on our monopoly, and we had acquired the last of the yellow properties to gain a second monopoly. There were three properties yet to be purchased. One of them—Illinois Avenue—the ladies needed in order to gain a monopoly.
As play resumed for night two, the guys weren’t doing very well financially. The ladies had deeper piles of cash—mainly because we kept landing on those railroads at $100 a pop, and they managed to drive right by Park Place and Boardwalk! The important thing, though, is they just had to get Illinois Avenue. Round and round the board we went. Several times they landed on the space before or the one after Illinois. You could feel the tension building. The guys are adding houses to our monopolies and the tide is beginning to turn—their piles of cash are slowly dwindling. They really need that monopoly—and we really needed to keep them from acquiring it!
Here’s where it gets interesting. As the grownups approached Illinois Ave., we counted how many spaces needed to land on the coveted property and then talked to the dice: “C’mon 7!” “I need a 3!” “Give me snake eyes!” The six-year-old had a different strategy. Several times before he rolled the dice, he bowed his head and prayed that God would give him the right number. Yes, you read that right. He’s praying that God will cause the dice to land in just the right way so he can get Illinois Avenue!
I know what you’re thinking. He prayed, rolled the dice, and shazam! The right number came up! Well, not exactly. He prayed, rolled, and the number on the dice came up short by 2. Do you know what’s 2 spaces before Illinois Avenue on the Monopoly board? “Chance.” So, he picked up the card and read it:
“Advance to Illinois Avenue.”
“What!” mom and Grammy screamed in unison, “No way!!”
You can’t make this up! He moved his race car token two spaces to Illinois Avenue, plopped down the $240, and the ladies just lost.
And a little boy’s faith grew.
I hope you’re not piously thinking, “Harrumph, that’s so selfish! He should’ve prayed that his mom or Grammy landed on Illinois Avenue!” No, surely you’re not thinking that. Certainly you’re recalling Jesus telling adults they need to have the faith of a child—the kind of faith that feels a need, or even a want, and instinctively asks God to provide. Jesus put it this way, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Then, with me, you’re probably a tad rebuked because you can think back over the last few days of all the challenges that troubled you, needs that weighed you, problems that burdened you, fears that plagued you, desires that enticed you…and you calculated and then talked to the dice instead of your heavenly Father.
Perhaps if we took the approach of a six-year-old and exercised a simple faith, then even when “chance” gives what we need, supplies our want, allays our fears, solves our conundrum—even then we would have the faith to see that the sovereign hand of God’s providence controls the dice, arranges the cards, and answers a humble prayer of simple faith.