This visible realm into which we are born is merely the chessboard on which invisible cosmic warfare is being waged. It is the stage on which we live out our days, rejoice over God’s gifts, suffer in life’s hardships, weep over our losses, battle through life’s temptations and trials, beat back Satan’s assaults, and then walk through our own shadowy valley of death, the final enemy of all.
Time to be real.
If I’m to tell it straight, I’ve felt a few times lately like God and Satan are playing chess, and I’m a pawn. Please don’t misunderstand. That’s just a figure of speech—though the feeling isn’t. I know that God would never use and treat me like a disposable game piece. I know, too, that I’m not cheap plastic, molded into an inanimate and passive pawn.
In truth, I am a hand-formed and divinely in-breathed person, both loved and cherished by the One who manages the game-board of my life. And while he chooses the next square where I will land, I get to choose what to do when I get there. Knowing all of this, I know that I am made to matter; and that, by the mercy of God, I will share in the victory with the Chess Master himself.
There is one more thing I know. I know that my God and Savior has been bloodied to death in this cosmic battle. He stepped into the arena as the One ready to sacrifice himself in the great universal struggle, to redeem the lost and defeated, so that we might share in his victory, glory, and love.
When I think about my present stage 4 cancer, my latest trial on a very long list (not to be recounted here), I’ve sometimes felt like God and Satan are contesting over me. Sometimes I’ve felt like a human pawn, rook or castle moved onto difficult spaces—either by God’s direct sovereign hand or by Satan’s fiendish but God-permitted hand. And even though I know that God can see and plan a thousand all-wise moves ahead, I’m still sometimes left feeling vulnerable and afraid.
In the Invisible Realms
By faith in God’s perfect Word, I take at face value those biblical texts that unveil the invisible realm. These describe a conflict between good and evil in which Satan and his minions scheme their evil, while God is always planning his good.
Consider Job. I believe that the cosmic conflict over Job, recorded in Job 1:6–2:10, really happened—that angels and demons, including Satan, really stood before God’s throne (1:6); that God called Satan’s attention to righteous Job (1:8).