Don’t you just love it when you witness the Lord using many different things in our world to help us to understand His Word? Whether it is the beauty of creation, a word from your children, or spouse or members from your church. Whether it is a nudge or reminder of scripture or whether it is the latest game you just so happen to be playing – yes, you heard me right. The Lord can use many different things to help us understand His Word. I can testify to that after an episode the other night.
In my case, as a mum of two lovely gifts from the Lord who love all things Zelda, plus myself being a Zelda die-hard fan since “Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time” was released 19 years ago, this past week was a surprise to me when I learnt a lesson for my Christian walk.
2017 has been a year of change for my family and those changes have not necessarily been the kind that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. It has so far involved a bereavement, sickness, together with changes in employment on two occasions. I recall nicknaming this year as a one-two boxing punch. Thus, it has been very easy as a coping mechanism to slide back into old habits such as not confronting any challenging issues but instead to run away or bury them.
Which brings me very nicely to my good old buddy, the Lynel in ‘The Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild’. I confess that I had to look up what the character actually was, as ‘thorn in my flesh’ and ‘messenger of Satan’ (to allude to 2 Corinthians 12 verse 7) really would not serve him justice in terms of the amount of times I had to just plain inhale and slowly exhale before switching off the gaming console and walking away. The character looks like a cross between a Greek mythological centaur with a lion’s mane together with some serious antlers or horns. Before attacking you mercilessly, he struts around his environment to and fro, like – to coin a phrase from my teen daughter – a boss. You are unable to turn away from him and run because he chases after you and runs you over. He is confident that nothing is going to hurt him. To quote one of the gaming website’s definition of a Lynel:
“These fearsome monsters have lived in Hyrule since ancient times. They possess intense intelligence, resilience, and strength, making them among the most dangerous monsters in all the land. This is compounded by the fact that they have a natural resistance to all elements. You would be wise to challenge a Lynel only if you’re very well prepared.” (UK IGN, June 2017)
|Image copyrighted to Nintendo|
Based on the above definition, I had to conclude that in 99.999% of each occasion that I would come across a Lynel, I was not very prepared! If there was one creature that got my old blood boiling it was the Lynel – or as I call him – Mr Kill-Me-Quick. In any role playing game the player gets quite a few challenging characters that one must grapple with in order to progress through the game. But in this particular case, if I had to cook dinner, help my kids with their homework, do household chores which needed to be done asap, then all I needed to do was to locate a Lynel in the game. Any game playing would then cease after no more than 10 seconds. I very quickly learned that the only way to get through the game would be to completely avoid confronting him or else get my teenage daughter to do away with Mr Kill-Me-Quick with the grace of a swan whose nest is being attacked.
So the other night, I was now approaching the penultimate and climatic end of the game, where I would need to face the final Boss. I had my motivational pep-talk from both my kids with even my daughter reminding me that I can do this through Christ who strengthens me (she had firmly patted me on my back and ushered me to the sofa where I took my seat so that she could resume watching anime uninterrupted). My youngest son took his position right next to me so that he could coach me through any moves and he reassuringly rubbed my back and calmly whispered to me that I was going to be ok.
I felt pumped up and ready to do this! My confidence flew up like an eagle as I dodged and vanquished Guardians….. and still survived. I made my way up the path to face the final Boss, and I incredulously laughed when I realised I hadn’t yet died. I cautiously negotiated some old castle ruins which took me eventually into an enclosed gate, ever dodging and weaving the continual laser beams from the Guardians trying to kill me. As I rolled into the enclosed gate area, all ninja-like, the gates in the room locked behind me and I realised that I was trapped in the part of the game where I had to face a mini-battle. But I was ready, and I was going to do this!! The point at which a heavy lead-like sensation hit the pit of my stomach was the same point at which I saw who I was going to fight, and my son groaned and said, “oh well, you’re going to die now” as he slid off the sofa to go and get juice to drink (he knew that I would be re-filling his cup soon enough so now was the best time to empty it) and amuse himself with drawing. Who was there to greet me? Mr Kill-Me-Quick. The previous nights (in other parts of the game), I had tried to take him on, but was killed in record time. I had also tried climbing up rock faces to escape from him since fighting him was so futile but was zapped into game-over screens by his electric arrows (I mean why would he have electric arrows, when it’s raining!). Last night, I realised that I was going to have to face him. I had no choice.
So, by all accounts, I went in totally accepting that I would be reaching for the Ribena bottle and mixing another blackcurrant drink for my son. But instead (through error with the handset on my part) I surprisingly managed to dodge the Lynel but not only that, but I was able to get a few hits in. As opposed to noticing each fall I took, I began to notice the successes which motivated me to not give up but to press on, until I managed – to – beat – him.
I beat the Lynel. A sentence so unique that I had to give it a new paragraph all on its own.
The big question here is why or how on earth does this line up with scripture or the Gospel???? If you are still reading, hear me out.
As I sat with my jaw wide open, my eyes completely round and unblinking and a sound not unlike a crazed witch coming from said open mouth, I was reminded of 1 Peter 5:8 to 9 along with the thought that each and every one of my difficult challenges that I have recently faced were like the numerous Lynels in this game. 1 Peter 5 verses 8 to 9 states:
“8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV)
Likewise, the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, failing in an important test in school, being told you are getting a divorce, being told that your house is going to be repossessed – these issues are not merely a hic-up in life’s challenges but are really quite a BIG deal to both the believer and the non-believer.
But the difference for us is that we have Christ who said in His Word that He will never leave nor forsake us. So rather than fleeing from them, we have the confidence to face them – in spite of how painful it is.
I confess that up until recently I would very reluctantly face those real-life issues and, if I could delay or plain avoid those trials, I would. But then always as a second thought rather than a first, I had to remind myself of who I am in Christ so that I could still stand. But for those real-life issues, the Bible does not tell us to eventually face them or confront them as an after or a second thought but instead we must “resist – standing firm in the faith”. Our first form of action is to stand and face it/them, to deal with it, not by ourselves but knowing full well that Christ is with us.
So, our “powered up super defence” is the Gospel about Christ. Without Him we will fall but with Him we can stand firm.
I remember watching a preacher on tv who was confronted with a mountain lion on a trek in the mountains near to where he lived. He had a bit of a stare down moment with the lion but knew that if he was to turn his back and try to run from the animal he would be torn to shreds. Instead he faced him and each time the lion tried to go behind him, the preacher would turn so that he constantly faced him. Eventually the lion abandoned the venture and left. The preacher gained so much from that stand off because it brought 1 Peter 5:8-9 to life for him.
I guess my incident cemented the reality of God’s Word for us today found with 1 Peter 5:8-9.
In my case, I discovered that the Lord is indeed capable of using anything on this earth to help us to understand His Word and for me, it was the fact that I took the decision to face that Lynel. Facing that Lynel for the first time instead of trying to run away showed me that through perseverance we can succeed, whatever life throws at us.