It’s been a minute since we have had the pleasure of a true open-world Mario game (the last one was actually Super Mario Sunshine on the GameCube). And fortunately for all of us my hands-on time with the new Super Mario Odyssey on the Switch tells me that this game will continue the epic winning streak Nintendo has been riding as of late. We are all about to run and jump all over another bright and colorful playground as Mario sets his sights on saving his princess one more time from the clutches of the evil Bowser. Now I know what you may be thinking. At this point the only people who are kidnapped more often than Princess Peach would be someone related to Liam Neeson in just about any of his movies. And you would be right. While we need a reason for Mario to don his hero’s cap in order for the game to begin, the constant in most of these games is Bowser and his penchant for taking the Princess from her castle.
The big difference this time is it seems Bowser has an entirely different strategy beyond mere kidnapping… as we have seen in the videos and gameplay revealed to this point he is planning to MARRY the oft-imprisoned Princess Peach unless Mario and his cap have something to say about it. Which they do, or else it wouldn’t really be much of a game. But while jumping and stomping my way through foes both new and familiar I had a thought… do I have more in common with the titular hero of the story or the “Wont take no for an answer” Bowser? The more I considered this, the more I realized that there is a little more Bowser in me than I care to admit.
Why does Bowser continue to snatch a princess that clearly wants nothing to do with him, considering it never works out for him? And why would he expect her to marry him? While it seems absurd on the surface, with some introspection I realize that he is not alone here. I am, and have BEEN Bowser many times over. Not so much with the kidnapping of royalty or the forced marriages, that would be weird. But I definitely will raise my hand as the one with the stubborn desire to repeatedly go down a path that never leads to a positive outcome and actually feel a sense of surprise when it fails yet again.
I would like to say that I spend most of my time seeking God’s will and waiting patiently for Him to guide me into His perfect plan for my life. I would LIKE to say that. The unfortunate truth is I have been less than patient with His answers and many times when I see what I want I simply go after it while asking Him to bless my steps. Someone else had that exact same strategy, and it worked out as well for him as it does for Bowser and I. In 1 Samuel 13 the cautionary tale of King Saul demonstrates the folly of taking action on what you feel you are entitled to, even if it is something that the Lord has promised. Saul was in his first year as king and his people were under siege by his lifelong adversaries the Philistines. Saul got in touch with the prophet of God Samuel to seek God’s blessing on the pending battle, but Samuel did not arrive within the seven days he had communicated. Saul, in a state of panic and driven by impatience, saw his people scattering and felt his time was running out so he decided to act. He completed the act of sacrifices and offering that was supposed to be completed by Samuel upon his arrival in a vain attempt to curry God’s favor by a means other than patience and obedience. And as soon as he finished lighting the fire, who should show up but a very disappointed and angry Samuel.
Isn’t that how it tends to go? We feel we are running out of time and desperately need an answer, so we take an action that almost immediately reveals itself as premature. I have made decisions on jobs, relationships, and yes even marriage from this position and I can tell you that the cost of disobedience is quite severe. Saul found out the hard way as he was cursed to have his tenure as king ended early and his lineage removed from the monarchy in favor of the line of David, his eventual successor. And while I haven’t got a king’s crown to lose, what I have lost through each of those poor choices as well as those who were the captive princesses during my misadventures has been far more costly than any position of leadership could ever be.
The good news is that the Lord is full of second chances, and even Saul was given multiple opportunities to choose obedience in his future wars with the Amalekites, the Philistines, and even his son-in-law David. And while he didn’t make good on those decisions either, another Saul in the New Testament showed us exactly what can happen when we take the blinding message from the Lord that we are heading the wrong way and turn our lives around. The man Saul in the book of Acts was a vile figure of persecution and torment for those who followed Christ, but when he was shown the folly of his ways he took the opportunity to cease his negative progression and chart a new course as the man who would evangelize the known world with the Gospel. And that is the freedom each of us have, no matter how many times we have chosen to kidnap the princess in the past. The Lord is not surprised by our mistakes… all of us are inherently broken from the point of conception. He expected us to make the choices that we do and that’s why he had His Son prepared as a sacrifice to save us before we ever existed in the first place.
The church only exists because of the broken people who make it up and are made complete by the Lord and His forgiveness. No matter how many Bowserly actions you have taken, every day and every decision is a chance and a choice to wait for His will and allow him to light your path. What God has promised WILL come to pass as sure as Mario will take a break from plumbing to save his princess one more time. And if she is in another castle? Then he will march on to the next castle and keep heading towards the promise. Waiting for the promises of God to come to pass may be one of the hardest things we do, and the strategy of satan is to convince us that we must take action so he can deny the Lord His victory. When it seems like it is too late… wait. When it truly is beyond hope… pray and be still. And when it seems like your promise is getting away… have faith. Not a single word He has spoken has fallen to the ground yet. If we take it before we are meant to have it, it will fall apart quicker than Peach’s forced nuptials with Bowser. It is when we are standing still on the promises of God that for the first time we actually begin moving forward.