E3 is officially under way and the most exciting week of the year in the video game industry is about to tear the roof off of the building. This would normally be problematic, but after years of playing the Sims I have found that in the video game realm, roofs are optional. Now ladders for swimming pools on the other hand… those are a NECESSITY. If you haven’t built a swimming pool for your Sim before and had the experience of forgetting this critical accessory… well, let’s just say your Sim will not solve the impossible riddle of how to escape from the challenge of a ladder-less swimming pool on their own. You can probably kind of figure out what happens from there. What were we talking about again? Oh yes… if we are talking about the Sims then we must be talking about EA (Electronic Arts). And if we are talking about EA, then we HAVE to be talking about the new Star Wars title they are developing… Jedi Fallen Order.
This one actually looks like it is going to check ALL of the boxes I was looking for, and as a MASSIVE Star Wars fan I am pleasantly surprised with the reveal trailers and gameplay that was showcased. We have an original storyline, a fresh Jedi protagonist, some refreshingly deep combat, and some cool force powers on display. It’s been a minute since we have had an opportunity to leverage the mystical powers of the Force in a Star Wars game in a truly innovative way and it is exciting to see that this will be integrated into multiple facets of the game… level exploration, environmental puzzles, and combat scenarios. It’s honestly about time. But the gameplay reveal also left me with a very important and relevant question….
I have often wondered why all of these incredibly powerful Jedi and Sith don’t simply use the Force all the time. I mean, ALL the time. I hate to admit it, but if I had even 1/10th of their capabilities I would be the laziest person in the history of EVER. Let’s be honest. Are you walking that envelope to the mail box if you have the Force at your disposal? Nope. I’m flying that thing there with my MIND powers. I’m not shaving anymore either… I’m just gonna Force push those hair follicles clean out of my face. I would be just like Mickey Mouse from Fantasia with brooms sweeping on their own, dishes flying around the room… all while fresh cookies bounce from out of the oven, dip themselves in some milk, and drop into my mouth. It’s a simple dream, and I suppose I could probably do a bit better than that if I put my mind to it. Maybe there will be a self-sustaining nacho fountain too.
But then the answer hit me like a ton of Lego bricks (not as heavy, but absolutely LETHAL if you step on one in the dark). The Jedi I have been watching in the movies, reading about in books, and playing as in the games don’t use the Force ALL the time because, as demonstrated in the gameplay video, they CAN’T. They have a finite amount of Force ability to use, and in the game the only way to refill the meter once you have depleted it is to engage enemies in combat. Maybe that’s why the original lightsaber battle between Vader and Obi-Wan in Episode IV: A New Hope looked less like an epic final battle between two of the most powerful force-wielding masters of all time… and a little more like THIS.
Here is the funny thing. After all these years, I hadn’t truly considered the force as having a “meter” that could run out, leaving it’s user lacking both defensive and offensive options. I just kind of expected it to always be there, ready to do one’s bidding. But when watching the video it became clear that without carefully balancing your force use between combat, exploration, and puzzle solving, your Jedi is going to end up on the wrong end of a lightsaber battle real quick.
Even more interestingly, I also neglected to consider my connection to God in the same way. I just figured that once I made that connection with Him that I could just coast by without requiring any further “system updates”. But then I read Luke 22, where Jesus was preparing for His crucifixion. And even though He is the LITERAL Son of God and has proven His ability to command the wind, the waves, sickness, and death itself… He still required time to PRAY.
Luke 22:39-46 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
Let’s look a little deeper for a second and ask some pretty hard questions. Why did Jesus have the need to pray? Why was He asking the Father to take away the path He was about to walk on? And why did He need to be strengthened by an angel when He HIMSELF is God in the flesh? Why does He need any help at all? These questions deserve to be answered, and after observing the force meter in the “Jedi: Fallen Order” video we have our first clue.
Jesus was about to face His most challenging mission; to be beaten mercilessly, betrayed completely, disfigured horrifically, and then burdened with all of the sins of mankind that had been committed from the very beginning of the world. Oh… all while he was being slowly murdered in front of his own mother. So… in order to endure what that dark day was about to bring, He had to recharge His spiritual batteries by talking to God in prayer. He needed the power to face His destiny.
Jesus told His Maker the truth. He admitted what He was struggling with and chose to submit His will and desires to the plan of His Father. It was a simple, direct, and earnest prayer from a Child to their Parent, and it was answered with an angel who came and gave Jesus the strength He needed to endure what was next. Jesus, even being the Son of God, still needed consistent communication with God for instruction, strength, and peace. It doesn’t say God talked back to Him. It doesn’t even record that God gave Him a response to His question. God simply gave Him the strength to endure what was coming next. And this is where things can sometimes get confusing for us…
I know for me it is easy to forget that we are in a battle. This life is not going to be easy, and becoming a follower of Christ does not grant any of us exemption to the challenges that lie ahead. It simply provides us with the power of God to support us as we continue to fight the good fight. There is a mistaken view in many Christian circles that becoming a “Christian” is about being set free from everything. But Jesus Himself contradicts that quite directly in Matthew 16…
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
We are free from the bondage of SIN, but we still have a cross to bear. We still have a self that must be denied. And that is LITERALLY what Jesus was doing when He was praying in the garden. He was asking for help in denying His own desires and strength to take up His personal cross. And THIS is why we must pray. As often as we can. Paul says to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Not because GOD needs it. God is not sitting in heaven like an aged relative wondering why the grandkids never call. He doesn’t need anything at all, and you are not doing Him a favor by praying. Prayer is for US. To replenish our strength and provide direction.
Now you might say, “But when I pray God doesn’t answer my questions. He doesn’t say anything at ALL”. Let me ask you this… did God answer Jesus when He prayed in the garden? Did He audibly say, “Now Jesus, I know this is hard. But I kinda need you to go take up that cross. It’s a big deal”. No, there is no record of that. He DID answer Jesus’s prayer… but not by having a long verbal conversation with Him. He answered it by giving Jesus the strength He needed to do what He knew He was meant to do. And God still does the same for us… but ONLY if we give Him the opportunity.
If you are feeling world-weary, exhausted, powerless, or defeated, I want to encourage you that the problem is not necessarily you or the path you are walking. It is because we are trying to carry our cross without God’s help. Jesus couldn’t do that… why would we think we can? If you are feeling burdened, join the party. Jesus didn’t promise a life without a burden… He simply said in Matthew 11 that compared to the burden of sin that we carry, His burden is LIGHT…
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Just like the Jedi in our gaming example, we need power to solve the challenges and win the battles that lie ahead. There is only one way we can recharge our meter, and that is in simple prayer to our Creator. It does not refill automatically, and you didn’t get an infinite supply tank the day you chose to follow Jesus. It is our DAILY bread that we receive when we go to God each day, all throughout our day, and ask Him to guide us through every step of the way. None of us, not even Christ Himself, can carry our cross without it.
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