Man, to say that the last 365 days have been crazy is truly an understatement. With COVID-19 changing the landscape of everything that we thought we knew as “normal,” many people have come to the conclusion that the life they knew before the pandemic is not one in which they can return to. The use of masks is now becoming a regular practice, as well as social distancing and the regular closure of businesses. Just being told to stay inside during a viral outbreaks completely throws everyone off their “normal” pattern of life, which can really stretch a person’s desire to do anything outside of their comfort zone. If this pandemic has done anything it has created a culture of complacence where foward momentum is more of a liability than an actual improvment.

“Mission failed” is a term that most will be familiar with, especially those of us who play video games. In an gamer where there are tactical stages that require a strategy and focus, there is usually the opportunity for failure. Stealth games, like Metal Gear and Siphon Filter pit players against not only enemy soldiers, but often the clock as well as they are required to navigate through a series of obsticals undetected. if the player is detected, then they either lose immediately or have to run away from a horde of machine gun toting badguys who don’t know how to look under boxes. whatever teh case may be, playing these games takes alot of patience and skill.

Patience, unfortunitly, is not something that I have a lot of. I have never liked playing these games because I am prone to hestitation when it comes to silently making moves through darkned corridors. I’m more of the “stealth is optional” type of guy where I go it guns a blazing and trigger every alarm I can so that no one can surprise me. Sure, that may seem like a cheap approach to completing stealth missions, but it is often more fun to be wreckless. Of course that is not the way it is with life.

The pandemic placed alarms and pitfalls all over the place for people to navigate through. It has caused everyone to hestitate when it comes to navigating the uncertain, and that has created a culture of stress far beyond what we’ve seen in the past. We struggled to move foward, step by step, slowly walking out of our homes and slipping in among a crowd who we were leary of. Every person we met became a possible spreader of the disease, a contagion that no one could possibly see or even measure. It felt like I was walking around in stealth mode, just hoping not to get caught by an enemy that I could not see. In fact, I recently just came out of my own proverbial cardboard box after the vaccinations began to roll through, even though my wife and I did contract the virus last November. All of this is to say that circumstances moved me to action and not my faith.

Something that many people forgot during this pandemic was that the circumstances were not completely out of control. Sure, it felt like that sometimes, but ultimately God had everything under control and was soveriegn in the midst of all the uncertainty. When things seemed most dark, God was still there to reveal light to the rest of us. God’s presence alone is enough to wram the most frigid of hearts, even those that are frozen by fear. God’s presence in this world is shown through Jesus Christ, the one who gave his life on a rugged cross so that we might have hope. This hope is not some beneign thing, but rather it living and active and an extension of Christ’s love for us.

Listen to what the Word has to say about Christ’s love:

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.- 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

When the Bible says that something is “compelling” us, it might as well say “booting us into action.” It’s a strong word that indicates that Christ’s love is the main motivation for you to move away from your shame, fear, doubt, and guilt. Due to Christ’s great sacrifice, we can look at that act as a reason to improve, grow, and move forward in our lives. Afterall, if Jesus can die for the ungodly who did not deserve, can’t we all do just a little for the kingdom of God.

I’ve never beaten Metal Gear Solid without setting of any alarms or being shot at. As a gamer I am far too clumbsy with my stratagies to get through a game without a moderate amount of mayhem, and dare I say that is true about my life as well. Actually, that is probably true about all of us! All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God afterall, and so perfection is not something that we should all expect, but we should pursue it. By pursuing it, I mean following the only One who ever lived a perfect life, and that is Jesus Christ!

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