Maybe You Should Pass

passMy Grandma B was a self-proclaimed Rook champion. She loved the game and made sure that each of her grandchildren knew how to play. When we were very young, she would put on her visor and call us to the Formica topped table in the kitchen where we would perch on the dinette chairs and watch in fascination as she carefully shuffled the cards with her arthritic fingers and dealt them out, starting with the person on her left.

Her already hunched shoulders would hunch over even more as she dealt and instructed us. “Remember, the one is worth 15 points and can take any other card.” or “Be careful not to bid too high if you only have 14s. You’d make a better partner.” If one of us should start to bid wildly high to take possession of the kitty, she would gently remind us, “Maybe you should pass, you’re not guaranteed good cards in that kitty!” It seemed like she always won.

As we grew older, our game skills increased to the point that we became worthy partners and actually got to play for points with the rest of the adults. We’d practice with each other when Grandma B went south for the winters, and play against her when she came to spend the summers with us.

Our deck of Rook cards grew old and worn—and my brother and sisters and I memorized the markings on the back of the cards. The birdie had an eraser mark in the raven’s eye. The one of yellow had a crease in the corner. Someone had stepped on the 14 of red and left faint sneaker marks.

By the time we started college, we knew the backs of those cards like we knew the backs of our hands. Only Grandma B didn’t know what we knew. “Who wants to play a game of Rook?” she would question on a Saturday night. My mom would make popcorn and fruit milkshakes and we’d gather around the kitchen table and play hand after hand. “I don’t see how you kids always win,” she would mutter in frustration mixed with pride.

We’d always play call partners (whoever won the bidding got to call for a partner who held whatever card the winner would decide on), and I confess that I would sometimes deliberatly call Grandma B as my partner if I had a rotten hand and knew I would lose the round, just to take her down with me.

We used our insider information to bilk Grandma B of win after win, crowing quietly at our success. Occasionally, we’d let her win. We felt invincible in our Rook skills. Of course, with somebody else’s deck, we played like mere mortals. Winning and losing on the merits of our decisions and ability to keep track of trump cards.

That old deck of Rook cards reminds me of what God offers us. Only when he calls us to partner with him, he’s in it for the win. He offers a relationship with us that will make us seem invincible.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; (Isaiah 43:1b-3a NIV)

God doesn’t promise to keep us from water and fire and trials—but he does promise to be with us as we pass through those things. People will shake their heads and wonder how we keep on going in the face of adversity. But we know the secret. When we answer the call to relationship with the king of the universe and spend time getting to know him, we enter into a whole new level of living.

God doesn't promise to prevent trials, he promises to pass through them WITH us. #fmfparty Click To Tweet

We can quietly get on with the business of passing through the trials that life throws up in our path—whether it’s an unexpected caregiver journey, our out illness or physical limitation, job loss, uncertainty about our future, or worries about our children. We can play life with confidence because God promises to always pass through it with us.

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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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