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Playing Othello

“It’s April 19. It’s been over a month since we had a natural disaster,” I said to Marnell Thursday night. “Or a garage sale.”

By natural disaster, I was including not only the flood, but our recent insect infestation and the moving process.

A few days before that, I was sitting on my chair–the comfy rocker that my aunt gave me when I lived at her house which is my favorite still–waiting on the bread dough in my Bosch.  It was early morning, and I was scanning Psalm 66.

(Uh, no. I don’t normally make bread early in the morning.  It doesn’t seem right to not clarify!)

It was almost time for me to head to the kitchen. The psalmist was waxing eloquent with praise to God in verse 8: “Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard.”

Got to go to the kitchen.  Oh, well, I’ll read a few more verses. 

What I read next shocked me, and I gripped the Bible with renewed interest.

The psalmist switched from talking to a crowd–(“O peoples”) to talking directly to God.

For YOU O God, have tested us.

YOU have tried us as silver is tried.

YOU brought us into the net.

YOU laid a crushing burden on our backs.

YOU let men ride over our heads.

We went through fire and through water.

The treachery of a net. The exhaustion of a burden digging into your ribs. The humiliation and shame of being used and “ridden over” by others. The blackened embers after a fire, the soggy basement after a flood.

That’s a lot of bad things.

Now there is a lot of discussion about why bad things happen.  Some people believe that Satan causes the bad things, and others believe that God causes them, and still others believe that Satan causes bad things but God allows it, as it was in the case of Job.

But the psalmist here, who has himself personally experienced the bad things, includes them in his list of reasons to praise God, and indicates that God himself had orchestrated each thing!

God I praise you… for letting those people run over me? For trapping me in a net? For the flood?

In the middle of the flood when she was homeless, Mary told me, “Sometimes, things come into our lives to make us.  To make us! I feel like this point in my life (the flooding) is doing something for me, Katrina. I do.  I try to be one of them people who look at every aspect that God put before us.”

Every aspect that God puts before us, according to Mary, according to the author of Psalm 66, is fair game to inspire growth, and therefore is fair game to praise God.

And then that last triumphant line of the Psalmist…

Yet, YOU brought us out to a place of utter abundance.

To the kitchen I went to make the bread.

Did they understand why the men rode over them? Could they rationalize the net?  Could they say they had enjoyed the fire and water? Probably not.

Yet, they could praise God for those things, anyway because they knew he was in charge, and had a plan.

And somehow they knew that the nets, fire, water, and burdens were the best God had for them in that season. That somehow, if their life had been easy instead, their souls would have suffered.

We are always in the right to abandon ourselves wholly to the sovereignty of God.

The place of utter abundance he brings us to may be different for each person. For me right now, having our living room decluttered and debugged to the point of being able to play a game is utter abundance.

We have a lot of work yet to do, but at least we have the leisure and the space to set up a game. We have each other, and we made it through some tough things. And many people have so many worse things.

That piece in the foreground in black means it’s my turn. I barely know how to play, so if anyone can give me a tip on how to win, let me know!

Psalm 66:10-12: “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water;  yet you have brought us out to a place of utter abundance.” ESV

10 thoughts on “Playing Othello”

  1. Psalm 66 has become one of my favorite passages. The KJV says that God holds our soul in life, and does not suffer our feet to be moved. I love that. No matter WHAT He takes us through, our souls can be safe in His keeping. That gives me comfort, and reminds me that the purpose of the hard things is redemption, not destruction.

  2. I enjoy reading your blog, even if I dont know you. I esp like the spiritual lessons out of ordinary life. Mary’s strong Faith in God and His supplying her every need is very encouraging!
    The above Othello hints are spot on! And i want to emphisize the corner strategy…. Whoever gets the corner reigns supreme, because there is no changing the corner color. (You cant put a circle on the other side) The more corners in your color , the higher your chances of winning! (Esp if you dont tell Marnell your new found knowledge right away 🙂 ) If you have a corner, the bottom row can still be changed, providing theres an empty space on down…. Like maybe, if your lucky, the next corner. 🙂 have fun!!

  3. Thank you for sharing those inspirations on Psalm 66… I love (but often forget to look for it) when the Psalms turn from random observations or addressing a group, to directly addressing God Himself. It takes them to a whole new level when I do that personally between my God and I in the Psalms.
    We have just experienced the loss of a beautiful grandson born at 27 1/2 weeks, and are still trying to process our grief. He lived only a half hour. I love how God keeps reaching out to us in so many tangible ways during this valley. ….Through Scripture (yes some of them very pointed!!), through the presence of family, comfort of friends, meals, texts, prayers, love-gifts, the beauty of this springtime, and the list goes on. Your blog was just one more reminder of His presence and comfort. Why is it that when our hearts are stirred so deeply by sorrow, they can also be so deeply stirred by God’s tenderness.
    As for playing Othello, my husband also quickly lost interest in the game for some reason. Hmmm. I wish I would’ve been smarter about letting him win for awhile at first, until he figured out the strategy for himself. He would’ve beat me fair and square after that I’m sure! Getting your color on the outside row of squares is obviously going to turn a whole row to your color. That means you need to avoid like everything having your color on the row next to the outside row. In the beginning stages of the game, try to get your color on the third row in from the outside, which forces your opponent to lay his color on the dreaded second row in from the outside. That strategy applies doubly to the corner sections: aim to get your color on the third row both ways around the corners… the ones surrounding those last four squares in each corner. Best wishes!!
    Thanks again for your post!

    1. I am so sorry about your grandson! And thank you for sharing… amazing how pain makes us more sensitive to tenderness, as you mentioned.

      And what a great tutorial on Othello. 🙂

  4. John isn’t a Boggle fan so we either play Ticket to Ride or Rummikub. We used to play Othello. Neither of us knew what we were doing, so we talked strategy out loud in our learning phase. “Maybe if a person goes slow at the beginning and waits to aggressively turn his color til the end of the game, he would have an advantage at the end and win.” That was John’s idea. And it works every time. I beat him so soundly and consistently that he no longer likes Othello. 🙁

  5. That God should care enough for ME that He would love me enough to send me trials to strengthen me is mind boggling. I know it to be true and have experienced it many times–but those times are not what I would choose. Then comes the acceptance of what He is doing in our lives, and the PEACE! Thank you and may the aroma of bread baking (and the wonderful taste of fresh bread and butter), give you fresh courage and anticipation of what HE has for you today!

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