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Playing Chess with the Devil

This is one of my favorite stories. It was originally documented back in 1898 but has been repeated many times since then:

On a tour of Europe, international chess master Paul Morphy and a friend entered an art gallery. It is no surprise that Mr. Morphy was drawn to a painting depicting two men playing chess. The name of the painting was “The Chess Players” by Morits Retzch.

In the painting, a man is playing chess with the devil, the stake being the young man’s soul. The artist had most graphically depicted the point in the game where it was apparently the young man’s move, and he seemed just to realize the fact that he had lost the game, the agony of despair being shown in every line of his features and attitude, while the devil from the opposite side of the table gloated over him with fiendish delight. The position of the game appeared utterly hopeless for the young man. His soul was lost.

Even though his friend got bored and moved on, Mr. Morphy stayed behind, eyes fixed on the chess board. Before long, he came hurriedly to his friend and exclaimed, “It’s not over! The young man has one more move! I could win the match for him!” They returned to the painting and Mr. Morphy showed exactly how the young man could not only escape the situation, but win the match.

The Lesson

Every day we are in a battle for our souls. The devil makes a move, we make a move. Back and forth we go. Sometimes we seem to be winning and some times we feel like we are losing. Once in a while, we feel like we are backed into a corner and ready to give up. But when those times come, we need to remember that we always have one more move. But the only way to discover that move is to accept the help of the “Master”. He is the one who knows us even better than we know ourselves. He knows who we are, how we feel, and what we are capable of. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. When we turn it over to Him and let Him show us how to win, we will always be victorious. Even in our darkest hour, when there seems to be no hope in sight, the Master can come and show us a path to victory. There is always another move for us.


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