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Layman's Walk

The Joy of Games with Kids

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Yesterday, my oldest daughter was at a youth group event for the night (Be Like Jesus).

Once the littler kids were put to bed, my oldest son saw the opportunity to play a game with Mom and Dad!

If you know me, you’d know I’m a gamer.  I love video games, board games, card games, serious games, leisurely games–basically all games.

Isaac decided he wanted to play “Beat the Parents,” a trivia game that puts (as you have probably deduced) the kids against the parents.

Since Kari and I were taking on only one kid, we had two pawns to move across the board while our son only had one.

What does this story have to do with anything?

So glad you asked!

In Matthew 19:30, Jesus says, “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Now, in full disclosure,. I know that the application of this verse that I’m going to use is at best a stretch and at worst, a joke.  However, I think the concept helps us to reconcile a concept we have difficulty understanding: aparrent paradoxes in scripture.

My wife and I are both competitive when it comes to games and our children are no different.  

We arguably could have beaten our son in the game we were playing, but he does the normally win. (You read the part about our being very competitive, right?)

But last night, he was within reach of victory, so we gave a few extra hints for his last question and he cinced the win.

If you could have seen how excited he was, you wouldn’t have believed it.

We have played so many games with just him or with him and his sister where he hasn’t been the winner (Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, etc.)

Seeing him celebrate a win, even one that was slightly in his favor, was a joyous occasion that boosted his confidence and made him believe it was possible for him to win. (I’m convinced his biggest obstacle to this point was his thinking he couldn’t ever win.)

And it was this that made me think about Jesus’ statement.  He didn’t say the last would be first and the first would be forgotten.  The last will get the joy of being first, and the first will also receive joy, just after those now before them.

This was how I thought about playing our game. Our son, who could have lost, was made first and Kari and I took a backseat to his victory.  

But at the end of the evening, we all received the same joy we had hoped to receive: a fun time with each other.
Again, I realize this is a distant interpretation of this message.  But if you’re trying to understand that “first is last and last is first” paradox, this might give you some insight.

It helped me.