No Useful Moves Detected: Solving the Mystery of What to do Next

As a techno-dummo, I don’t do a lot of gadgety time-killers. I’m much rather watch TV. Law and Order rerun, anyone? But, that’s all my family does. They have all the crush games, the zombies, the whatevers. So, often, when they’re playing their games, I feel left out.

So, I downloaded Solitaire (with help) and that’s what I play in my downtime. And playing is like flipping a coin, really. The cards are either laid out with a

successful way to uncover them… or they aren’t. In the version I have, there’s a way to ask for a hint if you get stuck. You know the game is over when your hint is “No useful moves detected.”

Ha, no useful moves detected. I got a chuckle the other day when I saw that message. Though I see those unhelpful words often in the game, I laughed because it feels like that a lot in real life too. Whenever something is out of your hands, it may seem like there are no useful moves detected. Does anyone else out there feel like that 95% of the time?

When you get that hint in the game, you know exactly what to do. Start another game. Moving the cards around, cycling through the deck again. Nothing else will work. If you want to keep playing, then you have no choice but to start over.

It’s not so easy in life. Though you may be in a situation when there are no useful moves detected, it’s not as simple as starting a new game. A lot of times, you have to wait for an answer, wait for other people to get it together, wait for the wheels of your life to turn again, wait for something to happen. But, who likes to wait? Not me.

So, whenever I find myself in a no-useful-moves-detected situation, there are 2 things I like to do.

First, pray. That’s not any kind of epiphany because I already pray about everything. Still, it’s a big move that you can make, and praying draws you closer to God, who will inevitably point you in the right direction. (Note: God’s timetable isn’t our timetable, so don’t expect the grand, illuminated answer to come right away. Just keep praying.)

The second thing is that I remember this verse: “Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.” ~ Ecclesiastes 11:6.

Sometimes, when you don’t know what to do, you should start with small things. Taking care of the house, cleaning your desk, writing that email, making that phone call. Keeping yourself busy, doing whatever productive thing, keeps your mind off the thing you can’t control and your focus on the things you can.

Besides, in the midst of that busyness, God might provide the answer you’ve been looking for. By doing this, you’re letting go and giving God a chance to work. Plus, you’re getting things done and that’s always good.

(Note to family: electronic games do not count as productive busyness; Though I’m sure God can speak through anything, I doubt it’ll happen on level million of Candy Crush).

Here’s the same verse from The Message: “Go to work in the morning and stick to it until evening without watching the clock. You never know from moment to moment how your work will turn out in the end.”

The without-watching-the-clock part speaks more about attitude, doesn’t it? To me, it says that whatever work you’re doing, you’re focused on it, maybe even enjoying it, and at the very least, putting forth an effort. God wants us to have a good attitude about work. Clock-watchers don’t want to be there. Useful moves that God might try to show you, will be glossed right over with a bad attitude. So, stay positive. (This is particularly hard for me as negativity is in my DNA, but trust me. It’s not impossible.)

No useful moves detected isn’t permanent. It’s a pause. It’s a chance to reshuffle the deck and gain a new perspective. If you look at it prayerfully, practically, and positively, you can turn a losing situation into an opportunity for good.

What do you do when there are no useful moves detected? Dare to share!