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“Check Mate” is a famous painting of a chess game that, to the casual observer, leaves its audience walking away from it with a feeling of defeat.
Several renditions of this painting have been circulated by different authors. It seems that there are as many different details of the story as there are paintings, but the stories surrounding it seems to have, at minimum, the same outcome. Because of this, I’m not sure that I’ve actually seen the original painting from which the story emerges. Still, its message rings clear.
The painting depicts two men in a game of chess. One man is depicted as having his hand covering his brow, possibly with tears running down his face and worry overcoming his countenance. His opponent is a character that looks quite sinister – the way one might imagine how the devil would look. He has a long, flowing black robe, and he is grinning from ear to ear while staring at his opponent. (This characterization is a far cry from the Bible’s description of Satan and his original pristine beauty, but sensationalism sells). As the name of the painting suggests, the devil has the man in check-mate. Game over.
The story continues about two men in a museum in which the painting is displayed. One of the two men becomes engrossed in the painting and begins to study it, comparing the title with the picture. His friend grows impatient while the man tarries at one painting in a museum full of things to see. He cannot pry him away from “Check Mate.”
“There’s something about this painting that bothers me," the man said. "I want to study it for a little while; you go ahead and wander around and we will catch up later.”
The man studied the painting and studied it some more. Finally, his head started nodding and his hands started moving. Then, after some great length of time had passed, his friend finally met up with him again at the painting.
“We have to locate the man and tell him he has got to change the painting or he has to change the title,'" the first man said. "I have determined that there is something wrong with this painting.”
His friend asked, “What’s wrong with the painting?”
“I am an international chess champion," replied the first man. "After studying this picture, I have found that the king still has one more move!”
No doubt, we all know what it feels like to be in checkmate. Financial distress, sickness, family trouble, disaster, etc., can leave us thinking that we have been painted in a corner. For the Christian, compounded with the everyday affairs of life that we must battle, there is spiritual warfare. Though we do not hear about this as much as we ought to anymore, the attacks bombarded against us from the enemy of our soul are real.
Can I encourage you by reminding you that God has never lost a battle? In spite of adverse circumstances in our life, God is still in control and working for our good. God moves on our behalf. God does not get rattled about enemies and problems like we do. He is so secure in his lordship that when he came to earth to defeat the enemy once and for all, he came as a defenseless human baby.
I’m sure there were many times the devil was grinning from ear to ear, thinking that he finally had the Messiah in checkmate.
When the king piece is laid down on the board, that is a sign of resignation. But according to the rules of chess, as long as your hand is still on the piece, the game is not over.
The King of Kings had his back to the ground when he was placed on a cross. Get this: God’s hand was on Christ Jesus his entire life – from his birth to his ascension to heaven! The game was not over. Victory had just begun!
That same hand of God is on us. When your back is to the ground, it makes it easier to look up to your help from heaven.
I pray that this new year is your greatest ever as you draw closer to God. He will never resign, run out of time or have anybody or anything force him into checkmate.
The king can always move!