January 10, 2011

Day 10: The Rules of the Game (Risk, pt. 4)

In case you've never played The Game of Risk, I decided to give you a brief rundown of the rules. Risk is a game of strategy and careful planning. It is the perfect combination of luck and artful positioning and maneuvering of armies. The game board shows a flat map of all the continents of the world divided into main countries (called territories). There are several variations in how you can start the game, but my favorite is to deal all the country cards to each player evenly for a more randomized beginning. Once everyone receives their territory cards, each player places a single army man of their color (I always choose purple if I can) on each territory. The card deck is then shuffled and returned to the dealer for later use in play.
The second round of game play is still setup, but this is where strategy becomes important. Tomorrow we will discuss the strategy at greater length. At this stage of the game, each person gets a certain number of armies (men) to shore up defense of their territories. There are three types of army pieces: The single army man, the cavalry rider (representing five men), and the cannon (representing ten men).
This is the point at which you need to carefully determine whether you will forfeit a territory by leaving just one man or whether you will add armies to fend off your opponent. Oftentimes, the winner of the game is decided in these opening moments of the game. Of course, the luck of the die can swing even the most cunning strategies in favor of your opponent, so no strategy is truly surefire at this stage of the game. Once everyone has decided their opening setup, the game begins.

So at this point, I'm asking myself, "Can I really bring this back around to battling strongholds?" It seems like it was a long time ago that I made this correlation, and even though I believe it still exists, I'm wondering if I'm on the right track here.

I'm going to keep at it until I feel the urge to abandon ship or until it all comes together. I think that rather than going further into the instructions today, I will turn my attention to the definition of strongholds. Before I do, though, I want to share that Risk was one of my favorite games to play when I was in college. It is especially fun to play at large parties with a mixed-gender group of five or six people. The time it takes to play and the strategy involved affords a great amount of time for getting into other peoples' heads (people watching) and intellectual stimulation, as well as the thrill of winning or losing big on every turn! You are challenged to determine when to take risks and when to stand firm and hold your ground. Yep, the more I write about it the more I realize it's a definite winner in terms of comparing to strongholds. We just have to get through the preliminaries so everyone can be on the same page with me in my understanding of the game and of strongholds.

I guarantee that once you read all these posts, you will be able to stand your ground firmly and play a good game of Risk, whether you win or lose! I will indeed want to hear about any of you who put my strategy to work and win against your high-brown husbands or friends!

All right, so in keeping with setting a firm foundation, let's start our discussion of strongholds with a working definition. The Oxford Dictionary defines a stronghold as: (1) "a place where a particular cause or belief is strongly defended or upheld"; (2) "a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack."

Now we're getting somewhere. In The Game of Risk, each territory is an opportunity to develop a stronghold. Of course, in the game we're talking about definition number two. Likewise, in the Old Testament, most of the verses about strongholds relate to definition number two. Here are some verses that speak of these types of strongholds:

Judges 6:2 (NIV) "Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds."

Jeremiah 51:30 "Babylon's warriors have stopped fighting; they remain in their strongholds. Their strength is exhausted; they have become like women. Her dwellings are set on fire; the bars of her gates are broken."

These two verses speak of physical places of refuge, fortified to provide shelter and rest when under fierce attack. We all need a physical place to feel safe. For many of us, our homes provide this kind of shelter. However, there are some of us who do not find rest even at home. It is my prayer that God will show us how to prepare our homes to be shelters for ourselves and our families. I hope and pray that this time of fasting will be a time of revelation from Him in how to exchange our old ways of fortifying ourselves for His ways of fortifying us. Praise and thanksgiving are certainly strengthening, as they pave the way for the joy of the Lord which is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

I also found some passages in the Old Testament which I believe refer to the first type of stronghold, the one we are more likely to deal with in our adult lives; the heavy grip of ideology. Here are some examples:

Lamentations 2:5 (NIV) "The Lord is like an enemy; he has swallowed up Israel. He has swallowed up all her palaces and destroyed her strongholds. He has multiplied mourning and lamentation for the Daughter of Judah."

Isaiah 23:11 (NIV) "The Lord has stretched out his hand over the sea and made its kingdoms tremble. He has given an order concerning Phoenecia that her fortresses be destroyed."

Doesn't it often feel like God is our enemy when we are holding onto things that He wants us to let go of? We do indeed have to grieve the loss of the things we trust in if we are truly going to release them to Him. I believe many of us during this fast have felt the excruciating loss of not having the thing we usually rely on any longer. I know I have!

So, we can now compare the territories in The Game of Risk with the territories in our minds, the ideas and causes that we defend with all our might. Oh boy, I can tell this is going to get harder before it gets easier! I am up for the challenge, and I pray you are too!

Let's leave it at that for now.

Until tomorrow, I wish for you to experience the Joy of the Lord as your strength.

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