Duck… Duck… Untitled GOOSE Game?! Wrestling With the Wild Goose (Genesis 32:22-31)

FINALLY… after all of my years of playing games, a title has been released that truly understands me and knows what I need.  I have snuck into SO MANY military bases, protected the planet more times than I can count, toppled evil governments, and saved princesses from every castle you can find… but what I REALLY needed, what I didn’t even KNOW was missing from my life, was to live out a day in the life of a pain-in-the-butt goose.  And now I can finally achieve that fantasy in “Untitled Goose Game” for the Nintendo Switch and PC.

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Honestly, this game should win the “Game of the Year” award simply for having the best title for a video game since the aptly named “Car Mechanic Simulator” was released.  You are a goose.  Not some heroic goose, not a special mutant goose with crazy powers, not even a goose destined to save the world.  Nope, you are just a normal, ordinary, run-of-the-mill ornery goose… possessed by the need to create chaos simply because you are a goose and you CAN.  What’s not to love?

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The video game industry can be incredibly cyclical, with annualized sports and shooter titles populating the space and predictable sequels and remasters filling the remainder of the store shelves.  But then, out of nowhere, comes a glorious breath of fresh air like the “Untitled Goose Game” to remind us all of the magic and fun of this entertainment genre.  The antics of this goose on the loose, honking at will and causing mischief in the lives of all who are unfortunate enough to make his “to-do list” is simply a joy to play or even just to watch.   But the annoyance of this rogue goose is really only enjoyable if you ARE the goose. I am not sure I would still enjoy playing this game if I was on the other end of the goose’s continual harassment… constantly trying to thwart his “goosely” intentions and keep my stuff from being stolen and thrown in the lake sounds more frustrating than hilarious.

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The not-so-fun part of life is that many times we can feel the same way as the characters in this game… maybe not necessarily drowning in massive challenges, but rather suffering the slow painful death of a thousand small cuts.  These daily obstacles, minor setbacks, and little annoyances can actually do more damage to our progress than the massive icebergs that we are often able to successfully dodge because of how large and obvious they are.  As an example, moving to a new home is a  huge, life-altering moment that can be filled with fear and dread.  But typically these big changes can be catalysts for moving your life onto a new and exciting path.  These events invariably define you, challenging you to rise to the occasion and growing you into who you were created to be.   In those moments the presence of God can typically be very clearly felt and heard, and to tell you the truth I rarely feel closer to God than I do when riding out a massive storm of change in the safety of His arms.

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It can be much harder to see value in the more mundane challenges in life… like simply finding an honest and dependable electrician to perform some necessary house repairs.  This can often feel even more deflating and become a larger distraction because it is so small and inconsequential, seemingly failing to offer any real personal growth opportunity or even a sense of value.  And many times it is those private goose attacks… these small, grating pains that we endure that are the most trying times of our faith because we KNOW it would be a simple thing for God to resolve for us…. He just won’t seem to intervene.   Cue the wild goose chase…

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When you have a broken leg, you go to the doctor and they will set it for you and place it in a cast.  You alter your life to compensate for it until it is healed, and in the meantime everyone who is around you can clearly see your cast, your crutches, and will typically be supportive.  They may open doors for you, offer you a seat on the bus, or at least be sympathetic to your plight.  But when you have chronic, inoperable back pain it is invisible to everyone around you and will not generate any sympathy or support from oblivious onlookers.  It just gnaws at you all day… slowly draining your energy and smile as you wrestle with an invisible annoyance that can be more challenging to your faith than the larger, seemingly more devastating and obvious foes we face.  We can have faith to move mountains… why can’t we seem to beat this dang GOOSE!!!

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In Genesis 32 we find Jacob, one of the patriarchs of our faith, in a similar situation.  He is about to face his greatest fear…his twin brother Esau.  The last time Jacob saw Esau he had…well… he kinda swindled Esau out of his birthright, his father’s blessing, and took off before his brother could kill him.  It’s complicated.  Suffice to say Esau felt a certain kind of way about all of this.  And now Jacob was about to see his brother for the first time since his brother had sworn to kill him, so it was going to be a rough night of sleep.  Or so he thought… turns out things were even worse than he knew…

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Genesis 32:22-31 And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok.  He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.  Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”  But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.”  And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.  So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.

So here is Jacob, about to face the most dreaded day in his life, when a completely unprovoked attack occurs and keeps him up ALL NIGHT LONG.  He doesn’t even get the luxury of tossing, turning, and worrying all night because this unidentified person decided tonight would be the PERFECT night for a classic ironman wrestling match.  All night long they wrestle until finally his combatant decides he is ready to go.  And on His way out he touches Jacob’s hip, giving him a permanent limp that Jacob would have for the rest of his natural life.  So much for the big battle he was worried about… now Jacob has this annoying limp to distract him.  Sometimes it rains on your parade, other times you realize while it is raining on your parade that you left the sprinklers on, too.  Talk about adding insult to injury.

The Apostle Paul endured a similar, life-altering goose of an annoyance and in 2 Corinthians he tells us of his experience with his “thorn in the flesh”…

2 Cor 12:7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

So what is the purpose of these gooses… gooseses?  Geese?  Pretty sure it’s geese.  These daily annoyances… whether it’s the limp we must endure, the thorn in the flesh we are not granted relief from, or the crazy goose that just won’t leave our garden ALONE…. they all serve a simple purpose.  They keep us connected to our God and insure He is ever-present in our thoughts.  These waterfowl who seem to exist purely to annoy us to death keep Him front of mind throughout the basic, simple monotony of every day life.  Jesus isn’t just for the big problems… He is our everyday companion and should be part of each and every decision we make, large or small.  Without the untitled goose wreaking havoc in our lives, it can be easy to go the entire day without recognizing our need for a daily walk with the Lord.

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I hope this encourages you in whatever goose-related antics you are experiencing right now to take a second… BREATHE… and get back in contact with your Creator.  You can’t keep the goose out of your garden.  It’s pointless to try.  Gooses are gonna “goose”.  And just gritting your teeth and bearing it doesn’t seem to relieve the pressure.  It just lets the frustration build until you finally snap.  Instead, let the goose guide your weary mind and stressed out heart back to Christ and remind you that He is here for more than simply forgiving our sins and saving our soul.  He is our daily partner in life, ready to walk hand in hand with us wherever this wild goose chase goes.  The goose can steal your rake, your lunch, and your boot… but YOU choose if he steals your joy.

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