The Return of Tony Hawk Pro Skater – “Skating” Through Life On Cheat Codes (1 King 3-11)

If you played any video games at all in the early 2000’s, odds are that at some point you played some Tony Hawk.  While the Tony Hawk franchise has seen more re-imaginings, spin-offs, and sequels than the original Star Wars trilogy, I think we all have to admit that it is the classic Hawk titles from the early PlayStation One days that nailed the formula.  Easy to pick up and play, no complicated controls… just the glorious freedom of grinding around levels, catching mad air and busting some sick tricks while rocking out to some funky beats.  Hmmmm… did I use those all of those phrases correctly and authentically?  It’s been a while.  Maybe they are funky tricks and mad beats?  Was it sick air?  I think they are inter-changeable…

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But now, all these years later, it’s confession time.  I can’t honestly say I spent too much of my time playing by the rules.  As soon as I found out that there were these wonderful things called “cheat codes” available for use and abuse, I immediately became the master of gravity and physics.  These codes unlocked everything from the ability to soar into the air for miles before landing, grind any surface without the fear of falling, perform a perfect manual all the way around a level, and most importantly accomplish these acts while playing as Wolverine.  I collected every hidden tape, spelled S-K-A-T-E with ridiculous ease, and broke every level’s scoring goal often with my very first trick.  I understand your need to judge me, I truly do.  My only request is  for those who are without the sin of entering a cheat code to cast the first stone.

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Now that my conscience is finally clear on all those high scores I posted, I can’t help but wonder what life would be like if we could simply punch in some cheat codes to make every day living easier.  Writers for everything from science fiction novels, blockbuster movies, and television series have toyed with this idea for years, mixing science with fantasy and postulating what would happen if we could “unlock” the full potential of the human body.  From mutants representing the full capabilities of our physical form, to experimental drugs that give people the ability to use all 100% of our brain power, or ancient relics such as magic lamps and secret fountains to grant wishes or eternal life, we have long been fascinated with the concept of a “secret code” that will open up the hidden powers that many of us crave in some form or another.

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Be honest… at some point just about every one of us have dreamed of either possessing the ability to fly, move objects using telepathy, rocking some super strength, or harnessing the ability to read minds.  Maybe your particular “cheat code” would be more money, to defeat aging and live forever, or even something slightly more pedestrian such as a new job, house or car.  So… what if cheat codes were real?  What if God came to you today with the option to enter any cheat code you wanted into your life?  What would you ask for?  The Bible has a record of one such event – the day that God offered one chosen man the ultimate cheat code.

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So many times I have had people tell me that all they need is one big break and everything would be different.  If they could win the lottery, go to college, if they could get a better house, or even something as simple as a clean bill of health.  Well, Solomon had all of these things and so much more – let’s see how his story goes.  In 1 Kings chapter 3 we find young Solomon, the newly established king of Israel in the place of his recently deceased father, King David.  God appears to Solomon in a dream with this simple but life-changing offer, “Ask me what I shall give to you.”  Wow.  Can you imagine?  God gives you one wish… one choice that will change your life forever.  No boundaries, nothing off limits, the limits of his gift only restrained by your imagination.  What would YOU request from the omnipotent God of the universe? Hurry and decide before time runs out… operators are standing by…

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Let’s see what Solomon does.  After setting the stage by admitting he is young and inexperienced, Solomon asks God for WISDOM – specifically for a mind and heart of understanding.  Of all the things that he could ask for, he asks for sound judgment.  I sincerely doubt I would have had the discipline to make such a request, and this clearly delighted God in such a way that He not only grants Solomon the wisest mind of any man who had ever lived or ever will, but also gave Solomon all of the things that he didn’t prioritize – wealth, peace from all enemies, and even a lengthened life span IF he would prove faithful to God’s commands.

1 Kings 3:5-14 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” And Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.  Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.  And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted.  Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”  The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice,  behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days.  So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

So here King Solomon sits – the wisest, richest king on earth, owner of the greatest cheat code in history, world-renowned for his exceptional knowledge on any subject.  He was so rich the Bible tells us that silver was considered worthless because it was so plentiful during his rule, and even his drinking cups were made of pure gold!  Descriptions of his opulent living and incredible accomplishments fill the next seven chapters of the book, and it certainly appears that Solomon is the showcase for an episode of “Lifestyles of the FILTHY rich and famous”.  So how does one cope with unlocking every cheat code in the book?

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For all that he was given, Solomon’s fatal flaw disabled the cheat codes he was given.   God’s promises were contingent on Solomon’s obedience, and his failure would prove to be costly.  The Almighty God, spurned and forgotten after all He had showered upon Solomon, informed Solomon that He would be taking the kingdom back and ending the party quite prematurely.  Solomon’s reign ended after only 40 years… the peace that he and his people had enjoyed broken in the final years of his life as God stirred up adversaries for him, including the man who would eventually take the kingdom from his son.  Let’s list all of the incredible advantages Solomon had – privileged birth and status as the heir to the throne, personal visitations by God on two separate occasions, the ultimate cheat codes of money, power, peace, love, health, wisdom… how much better can it get?  How does this man still fail, when he had it all? 

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We all have temptations in life – and Solomon certainly had his.  And no amount of money, wisdom, peace, or health would satisfy this particular appetite.  1 Kings 11 informs us in very direct terms that Solomon loved women… MANY women.  Women of every nationality, every background – he amassed a harem that defies full description.  700 wives, 300 concubines, and these were not just your average women either.  They are described as princesses – Royalty.  The best of the best from every country.  And this was no simple act of obsessive-compulsive collection, because the story states that Solomon truly loved them ALL.  He loved them so much that he built each of them a place to worship the deity of their nationality.  Solomon’s misguided love may have been genuine, but it was also his ultimate downfall.  Not only did he use the riches given to him by God to build shrines for worship of these fake “gods”, but he also inevitably joined his wives in the worship of them as well.

Solomon’s story is a cautionary tale for all of us – there are no real life cheat codes, and even if we had the things we wish for, they don’t lead to true happiness or fulfillment.  If you received your greatest wish today, it would not solve all of your problems any more than it solved Solomon’s.  Solomon would have been a victim of his own lustful desires regardless of his status – becoming king with infinite power and money only made it EASIER for him to fulfill those appetites.  If he was poor, of average intelligence, in a normal home he would STILL be a prisoner of those very same urges…  he simply would have fulfilled them in a less spectacular fashion.

I will never be able to use the force to carry nachos to my table.  I will never conjure up fireballs in my hands or sprout adamantium claws from fists.  And that’s okay… actually for the well-being of those around me it is really for the best.  I will never get to enter a cheat code to experience any of those things, either.  But I have Someone who walked the Perfect walk, lived the Perfect life, and has promised to walk with me every step of the way to insure I land safely after every jump (without the use of broken gravity).  If we truly walk with Jesus Christ every step of the way we will find He has all the riches of the universe at His disposal (Philippians 4:19), wisdom and insight into every situation (1 Corinthians 1:24), the ability to open any door (Revelation 3:7-8), and He will supply every need in the moment you need it if you walk faithfully with Him! 

And so we find a principle established – there is only ONE gift from God that can truly change your life.  It’s not a dumpster truck filled with cash, a CEO position with your company, or that attractive person that you have been praying would notice you.  You won’t be fulfilled with a beautiful voice that sells platinum records or the perfect body you wish you had.  Even in our very own fiction we are aware that people gifted with superhuman abilities tend to typically amplify their character flaws (see every comic book villain ever for full details).  The greatest gift God could ever give was Himself – Jesus living WITH us and IN us on a daily basis is the only way we can overcome those areas of our life that hold us back from our true potential.  The beauty of this is that it is a FREE gift – no cheat code needed.  Solomon and all of his wisdom failed to see that he already had all he would ever need right in front of him – a relationship with a very real God if he would have simply placed this relationship FIRST.

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