The Revival of Animal Crossing and an “Eye-Opening” Truth (Mark 10:46-52)

I cannot believe I am about to write these words.  We, the people… have been deceived.  Misled.  Bamboozled.  Our generation is now living in a world in which the answers to our questions have been hidden in plain sight, obscured by those we counted on to protect and guide us.  Some very odd and hard to understand choices were made by a few of our most trusted leaders and as a result we have been blinded to an obvious reality.   An uncomfortable reality that I am compelled to open your eyes to. At tremendous risk and great personal peril I have compiled and completed some unpopular research, discovering the ULTIMATE inconvenient truth.  This wonderful country of ours has been exposed to some major perversions of what is good and right.  Half of us see these lies for what they are… and half of us have sadly fallen for this hook, line and sinker.  How did this happen?  How have so many people with the best of intentions fallen for such an obvious deception?  It’s time to set the record straight.  Brace yourselves… this will be divisive and unsettling.  I speak, of course, of Animal Crossing.

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We live in a generation of gamers who have grown up with some abominations that PRETENDED to be Animal Crossing… but they most certainly were NOT Animal Crossing.  And my independent research has shown that there are MILLIONS (well, at least dozens) of people who have NO IDEA what Animal Crossing actually is and why they need it in their life.   Mostly because their limited awareness of Animal Crossing is the steaming hot pile of game that was Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival….

Or maybe the bizarre side-step of Happy Home Designer…

But whatever it was, it most certainly was not the amazingly perfect pinnacle of gaming that was THIS (59MB memory card not included)…

MMMM… smell that classic Animal Crossing goodness.  It’s that kind of happiness that you feel when someone makes cinnamon rolls in the kitchen before you wake up and you can smell them in your DREAMS.   If you never owned a GameCube and experienced the pure joy of booting this bad boy up and living in the incredible world of Tom Nook, K.K. Slider, Resetti, and so many other unforgettable characters then you cannot POSSIBLY understand how important this game was.  When this launched in 2001 there was simply nothing that existed like it.  One could honestly say it has never truly been topped or even matched by any of its future iterations, and I tried them all so I would know.  And now that we are mere weeks away from tasting this on the Switch, it is time to mobilize a generation who never knew the joy of swapping memory cards out or resetting your game clock because you missed the New Year’s fireworks in the game.

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At this juncture it would be fair for you to ask me, “What is the big deal about Animal Crossing anyways?”  And I would reply, “First, I will need a bag of barbecue chips, six cookies, and a quesadilla”.  Mostly because I am hungry.  But ALSO because this could take a while.  I will try to keep my affection for Animal Crossing it brief… perhaps it is the real-time day/night cycle in which everything in the game world is happening in YOUR real life time clock.  When it is 4:00 pm on the Tuesday before Christmas in your real world, it is also 4:00 pm on the Tuesday before Christmas in Animal Crossing.  In the middle of the night most of the villagers are asleep, and if someone tells you that something will be here tomorrow they mean the REAL tomorrow.  And if you try to change the date on your system to “time-travel” into the future or the past the game will KNOW.  And Resetti will berate you endlessly for your selfish manipulation of time to serve your own nefarious purposes.  Didn’t you learn anything from reading/watching Flashpoint?

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The characters are unique and often hilarious in all the best ways.  The music never got old, the variety of things to do and collect kept me busy for hours, and the whole experience just OOZED happiness.  There simply wasn’t anything like it before or since, and that’s saying a lot in a category that boasts some of the most radical thinkers on the planet.  Unfortunately, over the years we have slowly become blinded to the greatness that was Animal Crossing.  Multiple poorly executed spin-offs, a plethora of mostly useless amiibos, and the lack of a sequel that truly expanded on the original premise has restricted this incredible franchise and damaged it’s name value.  It is with nervous hands and a trembling heart that I eagerly await everyone’s eyes to be opened to the true potential of this franchise with the upcoming release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Switch… may it be the game changer these characters deserve.

The interesting thing about having your eyes opened to something like this is that you cannot undo it once it has occurred.  Once I had my first sample of Animal Crossing there was no going back, and I could not be satisfied by any of the numerous attempts to build upon its legacy because my entire view of this game was fully formed at my original point of enlightenment.  I may have been able to accept the dissatisfying spin-offs if I had not already tasted the pure form of Animal Crossing first… but that discovery was irreversible and now that I knew the truth I could not accept weak counterfeits or go back to the way things once were.  It simply wasn’t possible.

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Opening the eyes of the blind was one of the trademark miracles of Jesus here on the earth.  But it was not something He approached lightly, because the reality is that this represented more than just a healing… it would change the recipient’s life in ways they could not even fully comprehend at the time.  Think about it… the blind people that Jesus interacted with in the Bible were incredibly limited in their life options.  Most of the occasions where we find a blind person throughout the Scriptures they are a beggar, living off of the scraps of human kindness that are tossed to them by those who took pity on their plight.  There weren’t a lot of career choices for someone who was blind.  Their lives were DEFINED by their blindness… most of the time we don’t even get to know their names.  Just their condition.  But in Mark 10 we get both at the same time… a man who was literally called “Blind Bartimaeus”…

Mark 10:46-52 Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging.  And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.

I want to point out something you may not have noticed there before.  Jesus, the Son of God, had all the wisdom of the universe at His disposal.  The Bible states that He knew what was in our thoughts (Matt. 12:25).  So then why did Jesus ask Bartimaeus what he wanted Him to do?  It just seems so… inefficient.  I mean, what did Jesus think he was going to ask for, a pony?  It was PAINFULLY clear what a blind man would want from Jesus.  So what was the point of asking the question?

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First, we have to understand the nature of God and how He operates.  Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus did not just go around healing people without first receiving the request/consent of them or their caretaker.  God is not in the habit of answering prayers that are never spoken.  And in most of these healing circumstances there was a corresponding action that had to be taken by the receiver (Matt 12:13, Matt 14:34-36, etc.).  Stretch out your hand, take up your bed and walk… even the prodigal son had to physically return home to be restored to his father (Luke 15).  So now back to the original question… why did Jesus ask Bartimaeus what he wanted when his issue was quite obviously in his sight?

Time for the real truth bomb.  The reality is that while he may have wanted the benefits of sight, by receiving this gift of healing his entire life would be turned upside down in ways he had likely never considered.  His NAME was Blind Bartimaeus for crying out loud.  He would no longer be qualified for a position of begging… now he would need to go out and get a job to provide for himself and become self-sufficient.  He would now feel the obligations of contributing to society in a way that he had never felt before, because up to this point he had simply been begging helplessly and become infamous for his blindness, not for who he actually was or what he was able to do.  While that sounds amazing and awesome, it is also a sobering thought.  Literally EVERYTHING he knew was about to change.  He was about to see the world for what it REALLY was.  All the good, all the bad, all the ugly… for the first time all of this was going to be presented to him and he would never be able to close this Pandora’s box once it was opened.  He wasn’t merely receiving his sight… he was receiving an entirely new life as well as the full awareness of what his old life truly was.

Jesus understood what he was offering to this man.  There was no going back and Jesus did not take this or any other healing that He performed lightly.  It wasn’t just sight that he was receiving… it was a moment that would change every minute of every day for the rest of this man’s life.  He would be able to do a different job, live without his previous support mechanisms, and would become a living example of God’s power here on earth.  He would no longer be defined by his previous blindness… he would be defined by his healing.

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Our decision to follow Christ works much the same way.  His act of opening our eyes is not only a healing act… it is a complete change to our life, how we define ourselves, and everything we do from that point forward.  It is a disruptive alteration of who you are, how you see yourself, how others see you, and it will absolutely challenge your status quo in ways that you may not have fully considered until you are already in the process of the change.

The sad reason many people choose not to have their spiritual “blindness” removed is because they are not prepared to accept the changes that go with it.  They may like the convenience that sight offers, but not the challenges that it presents nor the growth that it requires.  Once we have received our “sight”, we lose the excuses we used to give for how we once behaved and what we used to do.  When you are blind, nobody is offended if you bump into them while walking.  Nobody expects you to drive the car when you climb inside.  Honestly, they would much prefer if you DIDN’T.  While our society has made great strides to insure even those impacted with blindness can live full and productive lives, there are still some inherent limitations that even our best social and scientific advancements cannot overcome.  All of those limitations disappear once we can SEE.

Sometimes I wonder why people would choose not to accept a life of following the living God… but then I realize that even Jesus had to ask people if they truly wanted to see.  He knew that not everyone was prepared to accept what the gift of sight requires.  Just like receiving sight after being born blind, the act of accepting Christ is both a beautiful as well as a life-altering process.  It is not a mere pair of eyeglasses that we can put on and take off at our discretion… it is the permanent ability to see ourselves reflected through the eyes of God and being challenged daily to make the best use of the sight we have been given.  It is not just a gift… it is a completely game-changing decision that leaves no part of us untouched.

Just as I hope I opened your eyes on the virtues of picking up Animal Crossing this March, I truly hope that this provided some enlightenment on what it truly means to pick up our cross and follow Christ.  And if you or someone you know have not yet chosen the path of “sight”, it may not be because it is the gift of God that is misunderstood, but the ramifications of that decision.  Receiving “eye surgery” from Jesus is the most invasive procedure we can ever undergo on this planet, and it is an irreversible change once you have taken it.  Going back once you have actually seen and experienced the truth is the deepest form of misery (just ask Judas).  But while this gift of sight has (and continues) to challenge me daily in ways I would have never imagined, it has also shown me doors to open that were previously inaccessible to me… paths that the old blind version of me was completely unaware of.

Some people have chosen to remain blind, believing the lie that because “Blind Bartimaeus”  is what they have always been called, it’s all they will ever be.  Others continue to sit at the gate of life and beg because they are accustomed to their routine, preferring to remain comfortably unfulfilled rather than risk the dramatic change that is the eye-opening experience of the new birth.  It is my prayer that you join me in the act of not only embracing our sight, but in bringing this message to those who may not even be aware that the ruler of this age has blinded them.  We know the GOOD stuff… we know who can open their eyes.  Let’s go make some optometry appointments…

Night Sky, Hyden, Western Australia.

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