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The Trust Game

trust gameHave you ever played the trust game? Where someone demonstrates trust in his or her fellows by falling backward into the waiting arms of a team of people set to catch her or him?

Blind fall.
Big risk.
No guarantee.
Complete confidence.


Whom do you trust like that?

I just played a new trust game. One partner keeps eyes closed, while the other partner leads him or her (only with words, no touching) through a crowded room, out a narrow doorway, down a crowded hall – with other people, both sighted and not-sighted, playing this game – around a bend, down another hall and into a crowded public space. On arrival, turn around and return.

Guiding, without sight. Only by faith. Faith in me. That no harm would come to her.

I am cautious, waiting for the way to clear, while talking her through the steps we will take to reach our destination. Introducing myself – did I mention that we had never met each other before? – I assure her that her safety is my utmost goal. But we will achieve our objective.

We begin. I go before her, my back to the traffic, my face to her. At first, I give instructions: turn this way, 2 steps that way, stop. But when I watch her face I see her comfort. She has placed her confidence in me, her complete trust in me. I will talk her through this.

Come toward my voice.
I will stay in front of you.
No harm will come to you.
I will clear your way.

We enter the lighted hallway through the open door of the classroom and her face beams. She pauses without moving. “That’s amazing,” she says, “I know I am in the light, even though my eyes are closed.”

I smile, but she doesn’t see it. She is waiting and listening, blind to the traffic, the congestion of people, and to the chaos of others navigating the hallway. She trusts. Fully.

So simple. Listen to My voice.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. ~ John 10:14-16

No bargaining in the strike zone

Perspective isn’t everything, but it may be the only thing. Certainly the only resource I have to make sense of the world I travel through. To it, I bring my experiences, my memory, my knowledge, and my history. Then I reflect and decide to act or not to act. This is what we all do. We have to do. Can’t do otherwise. We bring what we’ve got to the plate and take our swings.

Oh, there’s an objectiveness to things. Some things are gauged by measurables. How fast is the pitch? How low/high is the temperature? How loud is the crowd? But then there’s that ornery man dressed in black behind the plate who calls balls and strikes. He’s trained for this. Not meant to call me out, but simply to judge whether the pitch is in the strike zone. Because if it is, I only get three of those. If I don’t swing, that’s my problem. No arguing. I’m out.

Awaiting the pitch

Awaiting the pitch

It just seems reasonable, then, that if there is a strike zone and if there is an umpire and I only get three whacks at it, that I would give myself every advantage I could. I’d practice with bat and ball. Test myself against pitchers who throw hard or have great breaking balls or sliders or change ups. Whatever I might see in my at bat, I’d wanna see in practice. Perhaps I would even invite a batting coach to tell me if there were flaws in my swing. Am I dropping my shoulder or taking my eye off the ball or winging my back elbow? I’d want to know so I could correct these things.

The one thing I wouldn’t do is close my eyes or take my eye off the ball. I would open them wide and shine as much light on the game as I could. I’d want to see what I was up against to make the best swing at the best pitch I could.

I just wonder, with all of our practicing and preparing, are we getting any better at this game? Since we get multiple at bats (the better our team, the more at bats we get) are we hitting it more often? getting extra base hits or home runs or hitting better with runners in scoring position? What is our average? Are we improving?

It’s hard to tell. Because ‘things have changed.’ The equipment and the training are different. New and improved. So, with all the latest upgrades we should be better, right? We would do well to beware that the new is being applied by both sides, and the measure of our performance is relative to this. How well do we bat against that pitcher, under those circumstances, at that point in the season? So it’s hard to say if we’re getting better. Against the pitchers of yesteryear, who knows?

What we are told is this: to stay competitive in today’s game, we have to keep up. If we fall behind, we’re lost. Even if remaining competitive means we have to keep increasing our hours, keep scouting our opponents, keep training in case they are, keep doing the more that “is necessary” to stay on top.

And from inside the game, this is a very steep slide. In order to gain ground, we find ourselves clawing to keep from losing it. As if the playing field were being tipped ever so slowly to one side, we dig our fingers under home plate, dearly hoping that it is anchored to the ground and won’t give way under our weight.

What I fear is, we are people in a game where everything tips. Everything has become negotiable, on sale, or it might go on sale so we better be ready. We have the upgrades and the technology. Instant access and perpetual information. We have resources at our fingertips. Anything can be delivered online 24/7. Are we making any progress?

The smart hitter steps out of the batter’s box for a moment to pause and re-group. Consider the game situation, get the signs from the coach, grip and swing the bat in practice before standing in again. From a step away things may look just enough different that he can gain new perspective, or he may calm himself just enough to see the pitch a bit more clearly.

I am one step away from yesterday, thanks-giving Day. It is Black Friday. A day to rush for the bargains advertised by the marketers who want us to spend in their stores right away because once we get spending we will have trouble stopping. Or not. Check that swing? Not so easy, once we’ve built momentum. Before we know it we’ve gone around for the strike; the third base umpire says so. Are we any better hitters? Or are the stadium lights just getting so dim that we can’t see that the field is tipping?

We might do well to defend the plate, so we can fend off those pitches that come close to home. And lay off the tempting ones up around our eye balls that dare us to swing. Those Black Friday sales come to mind.

The way I see it, Christmas is still December 25th. The retailers are lobbing pitches out of the strike zone. I’m waiting on my pitch. Let ’em throw strikes.

Stop the ready and start the go


I love hearing that. Especially the “Go!” That’s my signal to jump into action, begin the race, dash  into the scavenger hunt.

Actually I like it when someone else says Go. Otherwise I would spend all my time in the ready-set. Preparing for action. Settling into the start position, re-tying my shoes, adjusting my waist band, etc. etc. But when someone holds the start gun aloft or raises the whistle to his lips, I know the Go! is coming. That’s when I must stop the ready and start the go.

This is just easier when someone else says Go! Maybe that’s why I like playing in games so much. I completely delegate the Go.

For sure, there are Go moments in life not just in games. These are a bit more tense. The “I do” moment. The “It’s a girl” moment. The “turn the ignition” moment. Where a switch is flipped and going back is not an option. I prefer the automatic go. Choosing the go is a whole lot tougher.

But choosing not to go has its consequences. When you’re forever preparing and never going, things get backed up. Just like being stuck in traffic, cars are coming behind you, making it more and more difficult – perhaps impossible – to turn around.

Now conscientious is good. Studying your options is important. But at some point in the back-up just heading out must take precedence over map-reading.

Much of life – though to commuters I know this may not ring true – we are not stuck in traffic or readying and setting before the go. Most of life we are just in the ebb and flow of our day. All well and good ~ unless it’s not. What if how things are going is not good? What if the other team is kicking our butts and they’re the last place team and we’re so much better than this?

It’s always easier to keep on doing what we’re doing and just hope it gets better. That’s the hazard of ‘ready-setting’ while you’re in-the-game. No whistle is gonna sound telling us it’s time to get started. In fact the only whistle we’re likely to hear is the one signaling the end of the game.

That’s when we’re got to stop for just a moment so we can start again differently. When we can reassess what’s working and what isn’t. That’s when we find our own go. And commit to it. Because waiting on the halftime pep talk to re-orient us may be too late. The deficit from the first half may be too big to dig out of. The traffic behind us is backing up. There is more work coming down the pike. The pressure is mounting.

So much of life may just be discovering our own “Go!” point. Or perhaps realizing that each time I’ve readied and then gotten set with God, whatever Go I have chosen He has somehow made right. True, some of the legs of those races have been very short before He’s stopped me to head me in a slightly different direction.

I think God may not be the one holding the start gun or blowing the kick off whistle. That may be me. I say Go. God says …ahead. See if there’s anything I can’t do with someone willing to go.

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