Saying Goodbye to Yesterday… (1 Corinthians 15:19)

To quote the critically acclaimed 20th century philosophers/poet laureates Boyz II Men, “It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.”  And as we close the books on 2019 we are going to have to do exactly that… and regardless of how challenging your year may have been, this may be harder than we think.  2019 brought us a LOT of the closure we had been waiting for across many different “nerd culture” fronts… the epic conclusion to over 20 movies of world-building in the Avengers/Thanos saga, the long-awaited release of Kingdom Hearts 3, the finale of the mainline Star Wars trio of trilogies, a fully-fledged Pokemon game on a home console, and the anxiously awaited release of Death Stranding.  To be fair, we also got some of the answers to questions that it turns out we DIDN’T want… like how we found out what would happen if Bioware made an open-world game as a punishment for our sins (I promise this is my last knock on Anthem… well, probably), or what happens when you rush out an annual franchise that isn’t QUITE ready yet such as WWE2K20 (I know I used this before, but bless your heart WWE2K20 I just can’t quit you).

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2019 also showcased the beginning of the end for our current home consoles, with announcements of the PS5 and the Xbox Series X both headed to retail shelves by holiday of 2020.  While there is certainly still some delicious meat left on these bones, with each passing day I am becoming ever more aware that I am holding my Xbox 1 and PS4 controllers for the final year of their relevance for me. It is a truly bittersweet feeling…. I mean, I love the excitement of what is yet to come, and when E3 2020 rolls around I will be scrounging for new information like I’m a 12 year old looking for a Fortnite Minty Pickaxe code.  (If you don’t know what that is, then you have the most important reason of ALL to be thankful for this holiday season.  TRUST ME.)

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But even with the bright and certain future that lies ahead for the next video game cycle… I am still torn.  If I am being honest… I am comfortable with my current console status. I mean, I still have SOOO many games from this generation that I haven’t even touched.  I am maybe 1-2 hours into Outer Worlds.  I haven’t even finished Jedi: Fallen Order yet.  There is so much left in my gaming queue I would need at least a year of NOTHING new coming out just to give me a chance to get caught up with what I already have.  I need the calendar to stop moving for a little while so I can get caught up and maybe, just maybe, smell the virtual roses for a second.  The world of gaming advances so quickly it feels like Anthem just launched a short time ago and defiled our video game consoles (Dang it, I knew I couldn’t stop slamming Anthem.  I tried.. I really did.  For a few paragraphs I stayed SO strong.  No, no… stop looking at me like that.) 

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 But it’s not just the speed of life passing me by that is the problem… it is the trouble I have with letting go of what I currently have so I can grab onto what lies ahead.  For years I have struggled with seasonal depression during the holiday season, because as soon as Christmas and New Year’s celebrations have ended I would feel such a sense of loss that I couldn’t even take down the Christmas tree.  I wanted to stay in the moment of where I was at so badly that I mourned the ending of the current holiday season instead of allowing the brightness of the future to provide me with something new and exciting to look forward to.

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I know the future is coming, but I don’t want to let go of what I currently have now.  I am not ready to part with this current generation of consoles because I feel like they still have SO much left to offer.  Time is marching on and I feel like I am somehow betraying my consoles by even looking toward that bright and glorious future while these current systems aren’t even cold yet.  Is it okay to keep holding onto them just a little longer?  I don’t want to move on while they still might have life left in them. I saw how that went in Titanic…

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Time for some strong medicine.  As heartbreaking and painful as it is to let go of family, friends, jobs, homes, or whatever else we lose on this plane of existence, this is NOT the endgame (Romans 8:18).  And on the flip side, none of the joys we experience here can even remotely compare to what awaits us on the other side (1 Cor. 2:9).  This life is, at best, a short training/tutorial level for our life in eternity (James 4:14).  And as believers, our understanding of what heaven holds for us is CRUCIAL to keeping our faith through the dark times as well as the good times.  According to the Apostle Paul, without this future locked firmly in our eyeline, we miss the entire point of our life cycle…

1 Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

Paul was responding to actual Christians who did not believe in heaven when he was writing those words, explaining that we are not merely following Christ for the benefits we receive on this side of eternity.  While it is true that following Jesus in the here and now is the one and only path to your best life here on earth (Matthew 11:28-30), failing to embrace the reality that this life is really just a one-way ticket to the after-life can cause us to forget what the endgame here truly is. The harsh truth is that apathy is the enemy of EVERY believer, and it can be just as easy to lose ourselves in the comfort zones of life as it is to get mired in the pits of despair.

Our mortal lives can be challenging and painful, but they can also be so beautiful and distracting that we forget what the final goal is as well as our true final destination.  Similar to my conundrum with the current video game systems I possess, it is disastrous to remain physically tethered to the present while leaping towards the future.  This results in a spiritual bungee cord effect, giving us the deceptive rush of moving forward while still technically being restricted to the place where we launched from.

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To escape that trap, the answer is simple… we must use every day we are given to maximize our journey towards our heavenly homes while accepting the very temporary nature of both our pleasure as well as our pain.  I plan to get every bit of use I can out of these current game consoles (that my life’s responsibilities will permit me to), but when it is time to let them go I will probably just trade them in towards my next gaming adventure.  Not because I didn’t appreciate them or the incredibly journeys they took me on, but because there is another step out there for me to take in my gaming path and I must keep moving forward.  And whether our walk with Christ has placed us in an oasis of joy, a fountain of suffering, or a mixture of both, we must never become so fixated on our present that we lose sight of our heavenly future.

Revelation 21:3-5 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

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