Let’s do a quick exercise. If you are currently playing through a video game raise your hand. If you are ALSO playing through another game simultaneously raise your other hand. If IN ADDITION to those two games you have yet ANOTHER game in the queue that you are still messing around with raise another hand. And finally, if those games are on different video game platforms raise just ONE more hand. Sweet… I finally have identified the number of extra-terrestrial readers I have. I can finally scratch that off the ol’ bucket list. Now, if you are anything like me you probably have a few different games in rotation right now…. I have one game I am actively playing (Jedi Fallen Order), another game I am still in the early exploratory stages of (Outer Worlds), yet another game I play online with my friends each week (Halo 5), and then there is my Switch that can jump into the rotation at any given moment (I haven’t forgotten you Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3… you deserved better). That is not to mention the myriad of games that I was really enjoying but moved on from because something new, bright and shiny distracted me. By the way, you can put your hands down now. Did you really still have them up? C’mon man…
This may come as a surprise to those of you who know me personally… but I only have one brain. I know, I know… please contain your gasps of shock and horror. While my demeanor may indicate I know exactly what I am doing and where I am going, the truth is that my thoughts are typically stuck somewhere between trying to remember random pro wrestling factoids and deciding if I still want tacos for dinner. (The answers are Giant Gonzalez and YES, in that specific order). The problem I find myself running into is that I have limited bandwidth on the information I can retain on each of these games I am playing, and some of those things are fairly important. Like what the buttons actually DO. Or where I was going to go next. Many times, if it has been a little while between sessions, I start the game up only to remember that the reason I put the game down in the first place is because I was stuck. And now I can’t even remember what I was stuck ON, what exactly I was trying to do that got me stuck, and every time I think I am pushing the jump button I end up throwing a grenade because I forgot what I was doing here and what every button does. And let me tell you something… that grenade that I threw right next to me did NOT help the situation. Not even a little bit.
Obviously, these are self-inflicted wounds. I could probably be patient, play one game at a time, and only move on to the next game when I am finished with what I had picked up originally. But that is kind of like going to Baskin Robbins and only sampling one flavor… I mean, I KNOW which one I want, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to try a few other flavors out as well just in case one of them becomes my new favorite. But the unintended outcome of playing all of these different games simultaneously is I become less skilled at each of them because I refuse to focus on just one at a time. I spend the first twenty minutes of the game just getting my bearings, figuring out what button does what, remembering how to use the map… and then it’s time to feed the baby, or I remember I need to take the trash out, or I come to the realization that those tacos for dinner aren’t going to make themselves. (See what I did there? I brought the dinner tacos back into it. For continuity’s sake. Take THAT Rise of Skywalker… that’s how you insure you don’t leave a plot thread dangling without providing resolution).
When playing video games there is definitely a drop in my performance as I ease my way back into a game while bouncing back and forth between multiple titles. Elite gamers, especially on the eSports circuit, typically restrain themselves to very few game choices so they can train their reflexes and become the very best at their game of choice. Interjecting other titles can cause a momentary lag in your decision making processes, and that split-second where you are not allowing your muscle memory to make the decision for you can be the difference between winning and losing. So even though there are a WHOLE lot of great games out there to play, these dedicated gamers restrain themselves to mastering a few select titles so they can compete at the highest levels.
This same lack of restraint that I struggle with in my gaming is present in my day to day life as well. I don’t wake up in the morning and think, “Let’s see… how many things can I be terrible at today?”, but yet many times I still find my way there. Not because I lack the right intentions or even because of my limited capabilities, but because I am a man divided across too many battlefields. All of these competing priorities cause mental congestion, and instead of delivering on who I want to be I find more often than not I provide a very watered-down version of myself across each goal. In James 1:8 there is an excellent piece of wisdom, and while there is definitely an appropriate context to this statement that we will hit at the end I think that this sentence also stands alone really well…
James 1:8 He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Many of us battle with being “of two minds” more often than we care to admit. Not necessarily two opposing views simultaneously in the same brain, but simply a division of your resources across competing fronts. We want to get into peak physical shape but we also want to excel at our work/school objectives. We want healthy relationships with our loved ones but we also want to invest into our passions. We know we need to place God at the center of all we do but in reality we often provide Him with only the time we have leftover after we have exhausted ourselves with all of those other priorities in life. And don’t forget about those tacos!!! Still got to make those…
What is the solution to the double-minded epidemic that only seems to get worse the more we try to simplify our lives? Now it’s finally time to investigate the full context around the concept of being “double-minded”…
James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Let’s unpack that just a little bit. The reason we are “double-minded” is not necessarily because we want different things or the wrong things… it is because we think we are responsible for all of these outcomes OURSELVES without the Lord’s involvement. God is not requiring us to be WISE… He is telling us to ASK HIM for His wisdom so He can guide our paths (Proverbs 3:6). Saying a prayer to God once you are already halfway to your destination or at the end of your decision making process makes zero sense… but more importantly it illustrates a lack of actual FAITH that He will provide a response or guidance. And if we are simply praying as a matter of form/function instead of with an actual belief that He is here to guide our path, then we are truly the most unstable of all of God’s creation (2 Timothy 3:5). We cannot achieve success in ANY area when our paths are not centered on receiving His wisdom FIRST (Matthew 6:33).
Let’s look at this very practically. Clearly we all have responsibilities in life, people who depend on us in a variety of ways, and the basics of self-preservation to attend to. All of these things are necessary, God-ordained, and good. But when we try to do any of these without allowing God to direct, guide and provide we are demonstrating a dangerous split in our psyche… we are simultaneously acknowledging His priorities for us without actually permitting Him to be involved with the execution of it. God placed it in our hearts to be providers, nurturers, friends, hard-workers, and so much more. But when we pursue each of these areas without His over-arching wisdom guiding us, we are doomed to frantically chase one objective after another and exhaust ourselves in the pursuit of each.
Think about Jesus for a moment. He was sent here with the largest mission/burden that any human has ever carried. The responsibility to lead a flawless, sinless life and then save the entire human race with His sacrifice. No matter how challenging your particular situation is, I am pretty comfortable with the knowledge that He has us all beat in that department. But as you read through the New Testament, I found something remarkably consistent with Jesus. He never demonstrated stress, never seemed in a hurry, and never showed panic. He had the largest, most complicated mission any of us will EVER carry and yet He never seemed the least bit concerned with His ability to deliver on it. He was the very definition of “Single-minded”… and there is a reason for that. Let me know when you sense a theme…
Mark 1:35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.
Matthew 14:23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.
Luke 6:12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
Hebrews 5:7-9 Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
Hmmmm… it seems to me that there is a simple cure for the double-minded syndrome. It is in allowing our easily distracted and compromised mind to become one with the mind of God. And how do we do that? How do we rise above the stress, the anxiety, the fear, the panic, and the continuing realization that we STILL have not started making that taco dinner yet? One way, and one way only…. through seeking God’s wisdom in prayer. If Jesus seemed to think it was important, then I have an important news flash for ya… it probably is. He had a WHOLE lot to do and a very short amount of time to do it, but He never allowed those seemingly competing priorities have a single opportunity to alter the wisdom He had received from the Father each and every day.
If you feel over-whelmed with your seemingly endless parade of responsibilities/goals, and are growing frustrated with an ever-decreasing capacity to achieve them… then this was for you. There is a false belief that I have heard many well-meaning people and even a lot of believers say… “God will never put more on you than you are able to bear.”. Well, I have some pretty bad news for you… that is NOT a verse in the Bible. Not ANY Bible. Not even those random weird translations that you can get by sending in three proofs of purchase from specially marked boxes of Frosted Flakes cereal. That verse is simply NOT in there. That concept is a gross misinterpretation of 1 Cor 10:13, and I encourage you to study it when you have time to see for yourself. The TRUTH is that God will ABSOLUTELY give us more than you can bear… because we were NEVER MEANT TO CARRY IT ALONE.
We simply cannot do what God placed us here on the earth to do without Him. Not in some existential sense, but in a very real, very present, very INTENTIONAL way. Only through consciously involving Him in our daily life through constant prayer and seeking His wisdom for ALL of life’s many challenges and questions can we have a singular mind in which everything He has placed in our hearts to do becomes achievable. Not because He gives us more hours in the day or makes magical tacos appear in the kitchen… but because the little that we have becomes MUCH in His hands.
John 15:5-8 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
When I try to apply my already limited gaming skills across multiple different titles/styles in a short period of time I am doomed to struggle in each of them, and not only am I wildly unsuccessful but I also don’t really enjoy the experience. Kind of defeats the purpose of playing games in the first place. Similarly, when we fail to make God an ever-present part of all of our decisions, plans, and daily actions, we are choosing the most difficult, least enjoyable, and least successful path to the finish line. Single-mindedness only comes from aligning our minds through prayer with the mind of our Creator… never the other way around.
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