Firsts and Lasts

Games have hit our house in a big way.

At least three times a day, Rufus asks to play his current favourite, ‘Sleeping Queens’. Knights, dragons, kings and queens manoeuvre cards from one hand to another as a part of the rapid quest to wake up five queens before anyone else. Adding up numbers, trying to anticipate imminent attack from the opposition and, of course, learning how to lose well.

Thankfully, it is an enjoyable game. Even when we’re on our third round since breakfast and I’m eye-ing the clock as we’re supposed to head out on the school run within two minutes.

And Rufus is getting better at losing. He’s also getting better at winning, and I’m realising that I can easily be beaten by a five year old. Billy has picked up that Rufus is winning more to the extent that he claims to be on both of our teams while we’re playing, just to make sure he’s on the winning podium when victory is claimed.

There have been numerous losing meltdowns along the way, and there will be many more, I’m sure. No one likes to lose. There’s no lack of competitiveness in our household, whether child or adult. But we’re all learning to rejoice in the playing rather than lament the losing, and even administer high fives to the lucky winner.

Alongside endless quests for queens (Uno does occasionally get a look in too), I’ve been teaching a part of Mark’s gospel to our women’s bible study that is all about firsts and lasts.

While I’m sometimes trying to be last in a card game for the sake of Rufus, Jesus calls his followers to be last, not first, in life now. Last in the sense that we are to align ourselves more with the servant than the master. We are to welcome the least, love the most unloveable and give up our status as we follow the one who became the servant of all through his death on the cross. Through his death, we gain heaven, the ultimate first place, and because of that we are free to serve now. We are free to choose to be last rather than first, free to lose our life now in order to save it later.

Its upside down thinking in a society that, as you’d expect, strives to be first. Its a pattern of life that only makes sense if we see Jesus to be God’s king, and we see our need for life-giving, heaven-bringing rescue through his death on the cross.

Sometimes I think that, even amidst a little family game, there’s a hint of that thinking as we teach the boys that they can hold winning and losing lightly. There’s more to life than a game’s result. And if you add Jesus and eternity into the equation, there’s more to life now than whether we’re winning or losing in terms of status, wealth and reputation.

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