I am going to make the painful admission that there was a period in my life in which I was a Sims player. At first glance I wasn’t really sure if the idea of cleaning virtual dishes and managing the bathroom needs of a grown virtual adult was going to translate into a relaxing use of my leisure time, but I will confess that there was a certain amount of enjoyment in engaging in the creative process of making a virtual version of me and my friends and then placing them into a virtual world that I was only loosely in control of. I made a character that resembled me, reflected many aspects of my personality, and shared my interests. Then I dropped them in to a world that my avatar and I would co-create together, starting in a small, modest home with the handful of necessities that my characters current bank account could support. And no sooner did the magic begin than it promptly turned into an unmanageable nightmare.
|It promptly turned into an unmanageable nightmare.|
See, my Sim lacked almost all of the basic functionality I possessed, even though it was the spitting image of me visually. I encouraged my Sim to cook dinner… he burned down the kitchen. I reminded my Sim to use the bathroom, he would rather keep talking to his neighbor to the detriment of his current pair of pants. I informed my Sim that it was time to go to work but he would rather watch TV and proceeded to lose his job. I don’t think he fully appreciated how hard astronaut jobs are to find. I would guide him to read books to further develop his skills in cooking and woodworking, but unless he had enough fun first he would pout and go swimming instead. I continually had his best interests in mind and understood what would be his optimal path in this virtual life, but his progress would ultimately depend on his mood, or if he got enough sleep the night before, or if something bright and shiny didn’t distract him on the way.
I will be very honest here and admit that I finally reached a point of frustration with my slacking doppelganger. I made the decision to do what would eliminate the challenges that he was having in navigating his life… I punched in a cheat code that provided unlimited resources for him to offset those areas that were lacking. My filthy sim no longer lived in a disgusting home because I put a robot maid in the house that resolved issues as soon as they started. I supplied the house with the very best in entertainment, provided unlimited money, the most comfortable furniture, mentally stimulating paintings… it was a mansion that rivaled anything the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous could put together. Topiaries in the shape of dolphins led to massive fountains pointing the way to an Olympic size pool. And if there was a neighbor giving him a hard time, well I could just pick them up and drop them into a pool that had no ladders to climb out. I removed all of his obstacles… and then realized that the actual game itself completely lost all purpose. By removing the challenges my Sim faced and supplying him with endless abundance without obstacles I effectively ended his growth and shortly thereafter I gave up playing the game, never looking back. A game without a challenge or a sense of purpose is, well, just an interactive screen saver.
|My Sim lacked almost all of the basic functionality I possessed, even though it was the spitting image of me.|
I am going to tie some loose threads together here, because many times I think we look up at God and wonder why He, in all of His infinite power and endless substance, does not simply enter some cheat codes into our lives and pay off all of our bills with a lottery win, clean our homes with the push of the easy button, or undo the damage we or others have done to our lives with his magic eraser. And it is easy for us to mistake His lack of immediate involvement with a lack of caring or interest in our predicaments. And we couldn’t be further from the truth.
Let’s start at the very beginning, in a process that mimicked my creation of my Sim. In Genesis 1 God created us in His image and likeness, giving us a basic set of skills and a set of desires that resembled His very own character. He built a perfect environment and gave Adam his first job as a gardener and animal caretaker. He gave us life, provision, responsibility, and a sense of purpose. But He also made the decision to give us autonomy, and in Genesis 2 He gave us the power to make a decision that would change the trajectory of our entire planet forever. He gave us free will to make a decision with two basic outcomes, and allowed us to make the call. And while we all know how that decision ultimately went (badly), the reality is God knows that it is only through our choices, challenges, and obstacles that we will grow and achieve our destinies. To bypass the valley of the shadow of death would rob us of the experience of being comforted by His rod and His staff. Would it be easier? Of course it would. But as my Sim in the game found out, it is the act of a loving benefactor that allowed him to experience a virtual “life” complete with all of the inherent flaws of a world with deadlines and alarm clocks, with hygiene needs and relationship issues, and yes even jobs and household chores because all of these were part of the beauty of the experience that was part of the tapestry of his existence.
|To bypass the valley of the shadow of death would rob us of the experience of being comforted by His rod and His staff.|
Don’t despise small beginnings, or allow the monotony of your life and the challenges you face to cause your faith in your Creator to waver. God is developing your life along a road that may seem inconsequential or unnecessarily challenging at the moment, and your kitchen fire may seem all too real at the moment. But God has eternity in perspective, and He sees more than just this moment and the burned drapes. He sees you through to your endgame, and Has infinite patience as you pass through your life and into His perfect plan for you!