Japanese RPGs really know how to make a player home sick. I feel like every single one of them starts off the same way; there is a hometown boy who wakes up in the morning and goes on a quest that will separate him from his family. It happened in Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy titles and of course, Earth Bound. Leaving home, or having it utterly destroyed, seems to be a theme in these games, and I can’t but help think that is because it is a theme in this life.
The reason why many gamers are able to attach themselves so well to the experiences of the titles they play is because they can relate to them. Traditionally, RPGs are usually coming of age stories where the young warriors set off on great quests to save the world that they love from incredibly powerful foes. When playing these games you hardly ever have to return to your home town. Home is what you are trying to save, so why in the world would you want to go back? Home is where all of the low level baddies are, and there is no way for you progress if you just stay at your home hub through the whole game, right?
I have been praying quite a bit lately as I have reassessed my personal role in the Kingdom of God. You see, I am a pastor of a wonderful Baptist Church in a town called Quincy, Illinois, nestled in the damp and cozy Mississippi River Valley. God has blessed me and my family greatly through working with the church, but at some point I got restless. It’s not that I wanted to leave the ministry, I just wanted more, and that desire led to temptation. I dove deeply into writing for other gaming publications, using my talents for something other than the Kingdom of God. It was a mistake that I never should have made.
You see, somewhere within the soul of a man is a “home” that they long to go back to. I believe that everyone has the same home, though many will not admit it out loud. That home is the Kingdom of Heaven, and it is something that people can experience here on earth. I learned this when I decided to reassess my goals in this life, and what I was really living for. Come to find out, I was placing something very temporary in front of a place in an Eternal Kingdom. The scripture convinced me of this fact in Revelation 2:4-5:
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
I had fallen away from my first love! So, I did something that every JRPG that I have ever played taught me not to do, I went home. I went back to the very things that brought me to the place I am now; my family, my faith, and my love for the Word of God. I returned to the simple teachings of faith, and left my desires for the next best thing on the side of the road. And you know what, I now feel a freedom that I had not when I was perusing secular gaming journalism.
Do I still enjoy those things? Absolutely, but they no longer control my life. I have crucified my own desires on the Cross of Christ, and with them I have laid to rest my aspirations for something outside the Will of God. By doing this I am coming back to the Kingdom, and it is for that reason that going back “home” is the right choice for any adventurer in this life.