Dark Souls and Thick Walls: When Getting There is Half the Fun (Joshua 6)

There are difficult games, and then there are the Dark Souls series of games. Specifically built to try even the most skilled gamer’s capabilities and resolve, this is one of the few times the marketing campaign for the title gives you an all too accurate view of what lies ahead by warning you, “Prepare to Die”.  A lot.  Like, all the time.  The entire concept of the experience is a controller-throwing lesson in patience and humility as you make minor steps of forward progression only to have them wiped out by death, and yet another death, and then again, and AGAIN… Lather, rinse, repeat until you cry uncle and switch over to play some Rocket League.  Few games are bold enough to freely proclaim that they are here to punish you and still turn a profit, but as millions have found it is hard to resist the siren call of a challenge to test your mettle on the nearly impossible.  While we all game for different reasons, for many the draw of gaming is the challenge it presents to our problem-solving and fine motor skills and Dark Souls will not disappoint here.  It has become a rite of passage for the most hardcore of gamers, a badge of honor for the elite… An acquired taste for a gaming palette sophisticated enough to find enjoyment from the bitter pain that awaits you.

Why do we embrace the illogical mechanism of repeatedly performing a series of movements that seem to only get us minor incremental forward progress and at times even seems to be moving us in the opposite direction?

But beyond the fleeting accolades that await those who rise to the challenge, why do we do it?  Why do we embrace the illogical mechanism of repeatedly performing a series of movements that seem to only get us minor incremental forward progress, and at times even seems to be moving us in the opposite direction?  With so many options that exist that would allow us to satisfy that gaming itch without all the painful repetition of gradual improvement followed by massive setback, why would we not only choose this, but pay for the privilege?

An interesting parallel exists to this enigma that may shed some light on this odd behavior.  It’s a Biblical story that is probably all too familiar to many and that familiarity may rob us from truly experiencing this through the fresh eyes we need to see what may not be obvious at first glance.  So I’m going to refrain from giving chapter and verse and change some names slightly until we reach the end of the passage.  And just for fun, we are going to view this through the eyes of a foot soldier who does not have the benefit of knowing the outcome yet.

Imagine that you are lined up in formation for the very first time, standing at parade rest as you await the entrance of the commanding officer who will brief you on your first assignment as a collective unit.  Sure, you have fought through some minor skirmishes over the last few years and withstood the attacks of a few bands of raiders, but now, for the first time, you and your squad are going on the offensive.  A whole new plan for warfare is about to unfold and your skills will finally be put to the test in a live fire scenario worthy of your training.  You are now the invading force, with a commission to conquer each and every city on your path to carving out a suitable slice of real estate for your countrymen in this hostile land.

There is only one thing left to do: Receive the rules of engagement and execute the plan. 

And then he walks in, the general of the entire military campaign as well as the de facto president of your people.  As each soldier shifts to attention the anticipation is palpable. This is it.  Time to get your marching orders and strike the first blow in what will surely be a legendary campaign spoken of for generations to come as the story of the founding of your nation is told. After receiving the briefing on the surveillance report results there is only one thing left to do:  Receive the rules of engagement and execute the plan.  General Joshua pulls himself to his full stature, faces his troops, and proceeds to give a set of orders that could not have been more stunning to hear.

“We are going to do what?” You wonder as he continues to detail the battle plan formation.  We are simply going to walk in circles around the city? Literally?  Didn’t we just spend 40 years doing this?  And now the first action of this military juggernaut that has been formed for the purpose of combat and conquest is going to be…. A parade?  And not just once for the purposes of intimidation, but an entire week of this madness?  Just being honest, when you heard a campaign promise of “Shock and Awe” a parade wasn’t really what you had in mind, but orders are orders.

When you heard a campaign promise of “Shock and Awe” a parade wasn’t really what you had in mind.

Just like our Dark Souls experience, it is through the repetitive action of obedience to what is needed to advance past this battle.  Little by little gradual progression was made even as their pride and sense of ego died… What was not clear in the physical was abundantly clear behind the scenes in the spiritual world.  The point of the Jericho experience was to illustrate the key principles of following God on this adventure:  obedience to His plan regardless of the seeming conflict between His plan and the expected outcome you would achieve on your own.  Are you committed to doing it with your own strength and your own efforts, or will you let Him blaze the trail and receive all the credit for your victory? After the 7th day of nonsensical marching the miraculous occurred and the walls of the city, which would have cost many lives to claim without divine intervention, simply fell to the ground providing easy entry for the entire invading force.  The squad learned the most important lesson of advancement, that you cannot go any further in your adventure than your level of commitment to 100% obedience to God’s will.

The change doesn’t happen in the walls until it happens in YOU. 

What walls are you being commanded to march in circles around with seemingly no progress in sight?  I know I have several cities in my life that I have to resist the urge to simply storm the gates and instead walk silently and peacefully in obedience to Gods command, waiting not-so-patiently for a sign of change.  But the change doesn’t happen in the walls… no, just as the game does not change it’s approach to your character, rather it is the experience that changes YOU.  I find many times I pace around the walls in my life looking so hard for a shifting in the bricks that I lose sight of the bricks that must shift actually lie in my will, in my mind, and in my own heart.  And it is only when I allow myself to finally embrace the full plan of God in this area that I get to taste the fruits of the success and victory that obedience to God delivers.  I hope this encourages you to look at the walls that you face not as an immoveable object for you to overcome, but as a place to show your devotion to our Lord and His divine will.  It is only then that we will see that it is not by might, nor by power, but by HIS Spirit that the battle is won!


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