The weather is getting a little cooler, starting to change into the time most people know as autumn, but which others call “football season.” It brought to mind the metaphysical classic, The Game of Life and How to Play It, written by Florence Scovel Shinn in 1925 and still in print today. (Words taken directly from her book are italicized.)
Florence says most people consider life a battle, but it is really a game. Every game has an objective and ways to go about winning it. Football has such a strong visual—the goal line marking the place where touchdowns are scored. We could say our spiritual goal is to connect with Divine Spirit or our God Self. Winning the game of life is using our divine power to create our experience, of happiness, health, wealth, love, or whatever good we desire.
There’s an old country song that goes: “Drop-kick me Jesus through the goalposts of life!” Metaphysically, we could take this to mean we ask our Christ Consciousness to powerfully direct us to realize and live our divine power for the greatest experience of life.
Any game has a structure and must be played by certain rules. The game of life requires knowledge and use of spiritual laws. To successfully play the game of life, Florence says we must train the imaging faculty to image only good, which brings every righteous desire of the heart. Directing our consciousness is the key to the game.
In football, teams use plays and tactics for meeting the opposition and moving forward. So, too, we use the powerful strategies of prayer and affirmation to meet opposing forces and develop spiritually. Florence writes, Through the power of his spoken word, man is continually making laws for himself. One says I never—another says I always. Each has made a separate law for himself, one of failure, one of success. Owing to the vibratory power of words, whatever man voices, he begins to attract.
In a way, our words are like the ball in a game helping us to move forward to our goal or backwards, away from it. In a game, sometimes after the kickoff, the ball is run all the way down the field for a touchdown, but that’s rare. It is more common for there to be steady progression, yard after yard, sometimes even inches forward. Likewise, in the game of life we make steady progression, meeting each instance of fear with faith and courage.
A sportswriter once said, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” In the game of life, how you play the game is everything. We don’t sit on the sidelines, but play fully, powerful in our oneness with divine power. Faith is the primary ingredient in the game of life. Faith holds the vision steady, focused on the goal line of what is desired and blocking adverse thoughts bearing down.
If one asks for success and prepares for failure, he will get the situation he has prepared for. Man must prepare for the thing he has asked for, when there isn't the slightest sign of it in sight. Prepare to have a demonstration! Act as though it is already yours, writes Florence. We must be bold and assertive in our affirmation and belief.
In every game there are ways to lose points, as well as penalties to pay through fouls and fumbles. In the game of life, there can be mistakes or fumbling—missing opportunities or being tackled by fear and immobilized. There can be penalties for “unnecessary roughness”—unkindness and condemning of self or others. You can be blocking your own good, so you don’t receive. Are you a tight end or a wide receiver? You can be penalized for “holding”—on to money, grudges, or the past.
Florence tells us, Living in the past is a violation of spiritual law. The robbers of time are both the past and the future. Man should bless the past, and forget it, if it keeps him in bondage, and bless the future, knowing it has in store for him endless joys, but live fully in the now. Living in the past is running the wrong way down the field, which will never win the game.
Freedom from unhappy conditions comes through knowledge of spiritual law. The most important step is to "ask aright." For man gets what he desires when he does relinquish personal will, thereby enabling Infinite Intelligence to work through him.
How can we do that? Florence Shinn talks about it as “Casting the Burden.” We are told in the 55th Psalm, to “cast thy burden upon the Lord.” Then the Christ within fights man's battle and relieves him of burdens. Drop-kick me, Jesus!
We don’t have to struggle and fight on our own. We are casting the burden—passing the ball to the master player within—the divine quarterback. We let go and let God. We say, “Thy will be done,” meaning we get out of our own way and stop struggling with the same old ways and beliefs. We turn it over—hand it off to the highest intelligence within us to work in the perfect way and divine right order.
Jesus also said: "Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This is another meaning of a game—to enjoy, to be light, to play. It’s a game, not a battle, and we don’t have to struggle and make everything so hard. In steadily repeating the affirmation, I cast this burden on the Christ within, and go free, the vision clears, and with it a feeling of relief, and sooner or later comes the manifestation desired. In releasing struggle, we can open to a new way.
Teams call different plays for winning, but sometimes the players have to depend on intuition or guidance. In the game of life we depend on guidance. Florence advises, Ask for a definite lead. Declare, Infinite spirit, reveal to me the way, let me know if there is anything for me to do. The answer will come through intuition, a chance remark from someone, a passage from anywhere.
Our asking, our declaration, uses the divine power of our word to create miracles, which are simply the result of spiritual law. Florence asserts, when one has made this demand, he may find great changes taking place in his life. He will receive flashes of inspiration, and begin to see himself making some great accomplishment. When a man asks, believing, he must receive, for God creates His own channels! We release it to the perfect working of the law in action.
Some people are cheerful givers and good passers, but bad receivers—refusing gifts from others and from God, thereby blocking their channels. After we have made our demand, we cast the burden onto the Divine. Trust in him, and he will bring it to pass. Divine power knows exactly how to make the perfect pass in the right way and direction for victory.
The rule is to keep our eye on the ball—on the greatest vision for our lives, keeping focused resolutely on good and only good, letting every situation of fear move us to greater faith and belief. We get out of our own way. We use our divine power to speak our word of declaration. We cast the burden to Higher Power and hand it off to the divine. So day by day, moment by moment, we are winning the game of life. Touchdown!