Sunday, November 13, 2011

Game over?

I am not sure about anyone else, but I know that I have a tendency to view life as being like a game... There are, however, some glaring differences: In video games, actions have consequences that are, by and large, limited to the confines of the game. In Mario, if you stomp a bad guy, nobody gets hurt in real life. When you maneuver Mario into a bottomless pit, you remain on solid ground in real life. Not only that, but you get to start over and try your best not to fall into the bottomless pit again. Even when you run out of lives, there's really no such thing as "game over" because you can reach the same spot again and keep trying.

I used to think that it would be great if life was like this: if we had unlimited chances and that our choices were not final or binding. Wouldn't it be great if, after saying something dumb, or taking a bad risk, we could hit "reset" and do things differently? I sometimes wish that I had multiple chances to handle a situation, to try things differently each time and after seeing all possible outcomes, make a decision about which was the right solution.

It sounds so attractive. However, if this was the case, then ultimately there would be no such thing as risk--risk implies that we stand to lose something if the situation does not unfold as we hope. Risk means sacrificing security--and not just in the temporary sense of a game, where you can always restart after you lose. Risk is what we do anytime we make decisions where we cannot predict the outcome... which is basically all the time. What's more, risk brings us opportunities to place our faith in the One who does know how things turn out.

I'll admit--some risks terrify me. When you stand to lose a lot should you make a mistake, you begin to question whether the risk is worth taking, or even if it is necessary.

Why does Mario need to leap over that huge pit? Can't he just hang out where he is and make friends with the koopas?

Okay--that's a nerd analogy, pretty blatantly. Still, to me--one who spent way too much of my adolescent years playing video games--I cannot help but stall in the face of risks that may only have one chance, where wisdom and care are a must, and I stand to lose more than just a game. I would like to think that just coasting, maintaining status quo, is the key to a happy life... but I know that's not true. There are some risks that must be taken to advance in life. Fortunately, it's not as chaotic and random as getting a running start and hitting the 'jump' button at the right time. I'm not leaping into the dark, but into the arms of God. I may not know where I'll land, but He does, and He will keep me safe even if I wind up somewhere other than I'd hoped or thought. It's so easy to say, but so much tougher to trust.

Create in me a trusting heart, Lord...

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