Release Date Disappointment? A Tale as Old as Time… (Isaiah 55:9)

Well… I will admit that I kinda saw that one coming.  There was simply no way the Avengers game was going to launch in May.  The version I played a few months ago still looked a bit rough, but DON’T PANIC.  It’s going to be all right.  Why you ask?  Because we still have the new Iron Man VR game that will fill that gap in time quite nicely… WAIT.  What did you say?  That has been pushed back too?  It was due in just a few weeks… okay, deep breaths… it’s going to be fine.  Even without some superhero love we still have CyberPunk 2077 that is due out in… no, no, no, that can’t be right… MOVED TO SEPTEMBER??!!!  C’mon… hold it together, this is a family article… you can DO this.  Focus on the positive.  Final Fantasy VII is almost… no, no it’s not.  It was also pushed back.  Save me Animal Crossing… you are my only hope (as I feverishly clutch my pre-order receipt with my hand in hopes that I can simply will you into existence.)

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I think you are getting the picture.  Almost every highly anticipated game in the first half of this year has been pushed back as we enter the painful final year of this console cycle.  You can practically hear the gears churning and groaning as publishers switch their priorities to developing games for the upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.  And it is no mere coincidence that titles such as CyberPunk 2077, Avengers, and WatchDogs Legion are seeing significant delays amidst rumors that next-gen versions of these titles are being developed alongside the current generation versions.  The priorities are shifting, and over the next several months we should brace ourselves for even more bad news as the once-fertile ground of our PS4/XB1 landscape begins to dry up and our favorite developers move on to the greener pastures of the future.  The straight talk is that even though we have some amazing titles left before the final curtain drops on this generation of consoles, there certainly remains some challenging and disappointing days ahead until that glorious future hits.

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The funny thing is we would not be so disappointed if we never knew the original projected launch dates for these games in the first place.  Think about it… we were all pleasantly surprised to finally receive a release date for the long-awaited Final Fantasy VII remake, and the idea that CyberPunk 2077 is even launching on XB1/PS4 was honestly fairly surprising considering many of us originally pegged this as a next-gen title when it was first announced.  But now that we already have built all of our plans, hopes, and dreams around these projected release dates we feel as if a promise is not being kept, even if that promise was given with the best of intentions.

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Honestly, this is the curse of being a video game developer.  The desire to share your passion project a bit too early and generate excitement for your fans combined with the pressure from your publisher to hit specific retail windows has caused this to become the norm rather than the exception.  By trying to create early hype and energy about an upcoming title as well as make a commitment to the future release of their game these developers often over-promise and under-deliver, creating unnecessary frustration and potentially turning off the very fans they are trying to serve.

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I am starting to wonder if we would all be much better off if we didn’t have these specific launch dates to look forward to.  Making a video game is an exhausting process filled with ever-changing technology as well as a host of other variables that make it an in-exact science at best.  It makes sense that as consumers we would like clarity on when a desired product might be available, but if the end result will only create these negative feelings, resentment, and disappointment perhaps it makes more sense to simply inform us of a project that is being created and give us periodic updates as it progresses.  We don’t NEED a confirmed, committed release date months/years in advance… we just WANT it.

In our daily lives we operate in much the same way… we like firm, committed, guaranteed futures.  We appreciate the stability of predictable paychecks, routine maintenance, and secure if somewhat monotonous daily routines.  Now you might say, “NOPE, not me!  I am not some boring, rigid, routine-based robot like you.  I like spontaneity.  I like SURPRISES.”  Sure you do.  Next time you sit down on a toilet I am sure you would appreciate the spontaneity of it flushing upwards all over you, right?  Or maybe when you walk outside to get in your car you would be excited to see that it has been spontaneously replaced with a flock of pigeons to carry you to work?  And then, when you arrive to work, would you still be incredibly excited to find out that your paycheck has been reduced by half?  Oh… you don’t like those kind of surprises?  Exactly my point… we only like GOOD surprises.

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When it comes to the basics of life, we tend to appreciate a very limited amount of deviations from our “safe zone”.  Even the most adventurous and care-free soul has certain areas of their life that they prefer to remain static, safe, and PREDICTABLE.  But in our walk with God, that stability is not necessarily provided in the manner that we would prefer.  Like our video game release dates, we would like the Lord to give us solid, concrete information about our future so we can plan for it.  And we would REALLY like Him to not only make this path clear and easy to understand, but we would like all of the problems and payments taken care of upfront.  And as we shall see in the Scriptures below… well, that isn’t quite the way He operates.

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If you have ever held a Bible in your hand that has maps in the back, you have probably seen one of these before.  It is a map of the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys.  Paul is probably the most well-known missionary of all-time, and he traveled all over the map quite literally to build churches and spread the message of Christ.  But here is the funny thing that you may have never thought about… Paul was never GIVEN this map.  His Bible did not have maps in the back.  His Bible didn’t even have the second half of it because he was still WRITING IT.  So let me show you what DIDN’T happen first…

GOD: Hey Paul, how’s it going?

Paul: Chilling.

GOD: Sweet. Here is a map of the next ten years of your life.  Make sure you follow the arrows so you don’t get lost.  I color-coded them to make it easy for you.  The magenta one is last… don’t mix it up with the purple one.

Paul:  Got it.  Did you already make reservations?

GOD: Please… who do you think you are working with?  It’s all right there in your itinerary.  I already paid for all of the reservations in advance, just show them your card and you should be good to go.  Don’t forget to get scan your frequent traveler card, I am counting on those miles to pay for Peter next month.

Seems pretty absurd, doesn’t it?  Yet that is what many of us seem to expect from our walk with the Lord… some all-inclusive, “all expenses paid in advance” voyage through life in which everything is conveniently prepared for us upon arrival.  We would all prefer if He would give us all of the plan in advance and all of the provisions we will need up front… let’s take a look and see how the missionary journeys for Paul ACTUALLY operated…

Acts 14:3-7 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region.And they were preaching the gospel there.

Hmmm… that wasn’t probably the intended travel plans.  Maybe it will become more clear as we continue…

Acts 16:6-10 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Looks like some more last-minute guidance… not exactly the well-prepared itinerary we would might assume.  But at least his expenses were covered, right?  Maybe a per diem?

1 Corinthians 4:11-13 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.

I hope this is painting a pretty clear picture of the challenging and ambiguous path Paul took to get to where he was going.  If not, here are a few more just to nail this down for us…

1 Corinthians 16:5-7 Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits.

2 Corinthians 11:24-28 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

Philippians 4:15-18 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.

What is the purpose of all of these verses?  To demonstrate a few simple and critical points…

  • Paul did not have a map of where he was going or a clearly defined sense of even where he was going next.  He simply followed the Lord’s guidance, obeyed when God told him “No”, and stayed until he received further direction.
  • Paul did not receive all of his provision up front for the journeys that were ahead of him.  He had to source his funding at each stop along the way, operating by faith as he moved from one step to another.

Just like the rest of us, Paul was operating under the guidance and provision of God to receive His DAILY bread… no long-term map, no deposits or reservations, just a faith walk from one spot to the next.  He didn’t even know what his next stop was most the time.  Some of the places he wanted to travel to were delayed by the Lord, others he was only guided to while he was LITERALLY on the run.  And yet now we can look back at his carefully crafted journeys as the greatest example of a successful evangelistic life ever documented.

If you are anything like me, free-falling is not your preferred way to fly either.  But this is the life the Lord has called us to… not to wander aimlessly and carelessly, but with a purpose that only our Creator can see.  He is not going to give us our desired “release date” info up front because then we would no longer be walking by FAITH.  If we knew the endgame up front… let’s be honest.  We would run straight for it.  We would take the shortest possible path to the finish line because we CAN.  And we would thank Him for the directions, plop the destination into our GPS and head off to the races like we are Leroy Jenkins (do yourself a HUGE favor and Google it), never checking in with Him again unless the check bounced.

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The Lord has called us to a life of dependence on Him… for daily guidance as well as provision.  He has shown He will provide everything you need to make the NEXT step, but not the entire journey up front.  This “faith walk” keeps us connected to Him and insures we never try to accomplish His will through our own strength or capabilities.  So if you are wondering when the Lord will follow through on what He has promised for you, I have some simple advice.  Ask Him what He wants you to do TODAY.  Right now, with what you have in your hands (Exodus 4:2).  He will give you what you need along each step of the way.  His ways are higher than our ways and His promises NEVER miss their release date… mostly because He doesn’t typically provide one.  But you can rest assured that when we look back over the map of our life, it will all make sense and we will see that He was always right on time.  Man, I hope Square Enix reads this one #StillSalty…

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