Sudoku, Good Pizza and Hearing from God

Inspiration hits at the oddest times….  

The question is, can we trust it? 

We were in our old neck of the woods the other day, so we picked up our all time favorite pizza from a local shop for the first time in a couple years.  Pepperoni, sausage, chunks of garlic – I really enjoyed it… and ate at least 3 or 4 slices more than I normally do because it was so tasty!

Unfortunately, a little after 3am, my body let me know in no uncertain terms that yeah, I had overindulged a bit.  After I adjourned to the “reading room” and assumed the “thinker” pose, I pulled out a book of Sudoku to pass the time while… well, you know.

Anyhow, my concentration wasn’t the best.  I was sleepy, not feeling all that wonderful, but I was still plugging along on the puzzle when all of a sudden I saw two 9’s in the same row — I had jacked up my Sudoku!  Bummer!  I was roughly 2/3 of the way through, and finding a mistake now is a pain – once you’ve messed up, you basically have to erase everything and start over, unless you can find a way to backtrack to the point of the mistake, which is really tough. 

That was when a couple thoughts hit me about how life, faith and hearing God’s voice are kind of like solving a Sudoku puzzle… and can be affected by good or bad pizza! (Well, it made sense at 3am with a stomach ache!)  Here’s what struck me: 

*  First, it occurred to me that if we have a logical error, bad assumption or mistake in our thinking at an early stage, it can have a huge effect on the life we build and the actions we take.  We could look back at some point, realize where we made a mistake, and then see a trail of bad decisions, negative consequences and undesired outcomes.  And, we may not be able to go back and fix it.

*  Second, when we pray and seek God for direction, we may not realize that our ability to “hear” is being affected by our own assumptions and motives – i.e., the “filter” through which we perceive things around us. 

*  Third, sometimes when we take an action based even on the best intentions, good motives and what appears to be the “truth”, we might not know if our decision was “right” or not until we see the results when we get further down the line.  In other words, sometimes we don’t know if we heard from God or if we just had some “bad pizza” until we look back at it retrospectively.

* When evidence conflicts with an assumption that we’ve held true forever, do we go back and start over, or do we just toss out our results and quit?  The example I’m thinking of here might be those that grow up in church being taught the literal six 24-hour days of creation model, and when they run into evidence in school (evolution, size of universe, etc.) that seems to conflict, do they toss out their beliefs altogether or try to find a way to reconcile the scientific evidence with what they believe?

*  The different parts of the body can examine the same information yet come up with vastly different opinions of it.  My mouth LOVED that pizza, but my stomach was not in agreement with my mouth.  Same thing is true for different parts of Christ’s body: we can see something like Rob Bell’s latest book and some will say “boy, this taste’s good” and devour it, while others will say “there’s poison in the waterhole” and avoid it like the plague. 

*  Lastly, everybody makes mistakes. I am so thankful that God is not so much concerned that we get our Sudoku right the first time, but He is willing to go back with us, find where the errors in our thinking/assumptions/motives are, make a correction and get back to helping us fill out the puzzle.  God wants to help correct our “Sudoku”, but we have to be willing to look back and examine our lives, seeing where we might have made bad assumptions and decisions in our past.

Maybe we can start a new saying?  “Life is like a Sudoku puzzle – you don’t know what you got until the numbers fall into place… or not?” Well, if nothing else, maybe I can learn not to eat too much pizza, even when it is my favorite.

This entry was posted in Devotional, Odds & Ends, Theological stuff. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sudoku, Good Pizza and Hearing from God

  1. Okay…I adore Sudoku…and is it TMI to tell you that THAT is where I do most of mine, too?
    Sometimes I’ll get so wrapped up in a puzzle, I forget to leave the room.

    And yes, it sucks when I screw one up…and yes, it only happens when I’m really tired. 🙂

    • That’s too funny…. Yeah, I was worried about TMI with that post myself, and I do keep a book in there with easy/medium/hard puzzles. Occasionally, I’ll hear the “where are you?” yell and realize I’ve been stuck on a hard puzzle when I should’ve done an easy one.

      I will mess the puzzles up when I’m in a hurry too, though it’s definitely more likely when I’m tired.

  2. phil geisert says:

    Our past mistakes can do more than affect us later in life, then can and will actually affect how our brain responds to stress and pain. We can actually program our thinking due to our past mistakes, trauma and wounds, whcih will cause us to react automatically to these types of events inways we do not always want to.

    Your comment on children being taught Genesis creation only to have problems due to our education system teaching evolution is another issue. If we would spend more time making sure that they are saved, and in deep relationship with the Father their faith would hold them steady in the midst of this assult on their faith. My children did not find the teaching of evolution to shake them, they understood that they were being taught something that was required, but it was not what they believed.

    I think it boils down to our children only believe, which means they are subject to change their beliefs when a stronger more logical argument comes around. If they had faith, then not even death will change what they have faith in. Maybe we need to lead our families like the Lord said of Abraham, we need to actually make sure our children are not just saying the right Godly things, but they are truly born again.

    • Yep….. I agree with almost everything you’re saying. We do tend to get “programmed” to respond in certain ways, and it’s tough to break old habits. That’s why the “renewing of our minds” is so important — it takes God’s grace and power to retrain ourselves.

      As far as the kids, I agree that it is important to make sure they have solid relationships with God — that they truly know Him and are saved. If they have solid faith, they will be able to withstand the “assault on their faith” when they are presented with logical arguments, etc.

      The one area where I think my viewpoint is a little different….. I don’t necessarily think that believing in an “old universe” and a non-literal interpretation (in terms of timing) of the Biblical creation account makes a person less of a Christian. In fact, I know a lot of people that have great relationships with God that think the universe might be very old.

      I’m not trying to make you believe in an old universe, by the way. I’m just pointing out that believing in an old universe isn’t necessarily an ‘assault on the faith’. I think the church will be better off if we can get to the point where we teach kids something like: “Some Christians believe that the Genesis account is literal and all of Creation was created in 6 days. Other Christians believe that the Genesis account is not literal regarding the timing of Creation. In either case, we believe that God created…..”

      Even if the universe is very old, I still say God had to create. DNA is too complex to just form randomly, and to believe that everything ‘evolved’ on it’s own without an “intelligent designer” working… well, that takes more faith than believing in the Resurrection, if you ask me!

      One of my earlier posts looked at just this topic —

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