Faithful Until Forsaken: Destiny 2, Cayde-6, and Elijah (1 Kings 19)

Oh Destiny 2… where to begin?  At one point this disc rarely left my console as I spent my limited gaming hours committed to knocking out all of the weekly challenges, maxing out my light level, and upgrading my favorite weapons and armor sets.  But after spending countless hours fighting, grinding, upgrading, and simply investing into this game I had reached an inconvenient truth.  This admission is as painful and honest as I can make it… I simply didn’t want to play it anymore.  And there is a simple reason why that has nothing to do with the repetitive nature of the game or the limited gameplay modes.  But before I get there I must insert a SPOILER ALERT for the three people that did not know about this development…

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It might sound silly, but in all seriousness Destiny 2 carried me through some dark and challenging times in my personal life.  And my favorite part of the game was the constant shenanigans of the always hilarious Hunter Cayde-6.  While I can appreciate a simplistic, fun and shallow game as much as anyone, the main reason I play games is to experience the stories and characters that they bring to life.  And when Bungie made the decision in the Destiny 2: Forsaken expansion to permanently kill off Cayde-6, my favorite character in the franchise, the door began to close on my interest in the continuing adventures of the remaining guardians.  Your mileage may vary here, but for me he was the most interesting and entertaining thread in the tapestry that makes up the Destiny universe.  His irreverent brand of humor combined with his reckless bravery to take on the most insurmountable odds came to an incredibly abrupt and brutal end, and from that point forward my disengagement with Destiny 2 began.

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I plowed through the storyline of Destiny 2:Forsaken hoping that there may be some magical “MacGuffin” that could bring him back, but it was all to no avail.  His story was over, his voice permanently silenced, and all that remained was a universe had lost much of its luster.  Much like the title of the expansion, I felt it was I who had been “Forsaken” by Destiny.  A week of not playing went by, which turned into a month, and then an entire season of content was skipped.  This game that had been there for me when I needed a diversion now represented only disappointment.  As a logical gamer I understood the need to push the narrative forward into a new direction, but as an emotional human being I felt betrayed, and yes, as corny as it sounds, “forsaken” by Destiny.  Cayde’s fateful last stand broke all of the love and goodwill that I had for this game that had once been my sole source of comfort.  And I have never looked back.

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I wasn’t just sad at his death or even mad that he was taken away… I was HURT. Hurt that something I had trusted to provide me solace and security had forsaken me after I had been SO very faithful for SO very long. And the sad truth is that many people at various points in their life reached this exact same conclusion about our Heavenly Father.  It is easy to follow Him when the skies are blue and the waters are calm, but when we find ourselves run aground in the shipwrecks of life we can feel forsaken by our Creator very quickly.  How can the God that holds me safely in the palm of His hand allow such catastrophic events to take place?  And how am I supposed to react when He both “gives and takes away” (Job 1:21)?  One of the mightiest prophets of God in the Bible reached this exact same place, and I believe that somewhere within his journey from forsaken to faithful we will find the answers.

The prophet Elijah occupies a special place in the Bible’s Hall of Fame (if there was one).  He boldly challenged kings (1 Kings 21), called fire down from heaven (1 Kings 18), and his prayers both raised the dead and controlled the weather (1 Kings 17).  But in 1 Kings 19 we do not find this powerful prophet calling on God for miraculous displays of power… no, instead we find him running away as fast as he can mere days after his most incredible display of God’s favor yet.

1 Kings 19:1-4 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

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Elijah had LITERALLY just called fire down from heaven, defeated and put to death 450 evil prophets of the idol Baal, and physically outrun the king’s chariot to the city.  I would call that a pretty good day, all things considered.  But once a contract from the queen was placed on his life things went in a downward spiral VERY quickly.  Just as quickly as Elijah had arrived to celebrate the incredible victory that the Lord had accomplished, he was on his way right back out of town.  He even dropped off his servant so he could face his final days of insecurity in complete isolation.  So often this is satan’s way in our lives… snatching defeat from the jaws of certain victory by engaging us in battle immediately after we have just achieved our greatest accomplishment.  This was how he knocked the people of Israel off course immediately after they escaped Egypt back in the book of Exodus (Exodus 17), and he is doing it to Elijah here.

1 Kings 19:8-10 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

Elijah is not faithless… in spite of all that has happened he still believes in the Lord.  But his words make it clear that he is feeling forsaken… abandoned… alone.  And I believe that all of us at some point in our walk with God reach this same plateau…  many times shortly after our most meaningful “mountaintop experience”.  We come crashing back down to the harsh reality that this flawed world will still seek to do us harm and destroy our faith as we endure public victory followed by private pain.  And I believe that this battleground is the place where many souls abandon their faith, the place where they believe they have been abandoned and forsaken by the God they had placed their faith in to protect them.  Even Jesus Christ Himself, in his final moments of agony on the cross, cried out in fulfillment of scripture…

Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?

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So what do we do with all of this?  Is walking with God synonymous with disappointment and defeat until we get to heaven?  Fortunately, I do not have to answer that.  God will answer that question just fine on His own when he meets Elijah at the pinnacle of his disillusionment…

1 Kings 19:13-18 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”Then the Lord said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Let’s unpack that for a minute.  God did not yell at Elijah, shame Elijah, or blame Elijah (even though many of us are very quick to do so when someone around us falls into a crisis of faith).  Instead, the Lord jumps right into reassuring Elijah that the fact he is STILL HERE means the Lord is not through with him yet.  He puts Elijah right back on the path of changing the entire landscape of the world around him, starting with the anointing of two new kings as well as preparing his eventual successor, Elisha.  And just to remind Elijah that he was NEVER actually alone, the Lord also reveals that there are still SEVEN THOUSAND people remaining on his side.

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To his credit Elijah gets right back to work, with this crisis of faith fully in his rear view mirror.  As both Elijah during his mountain cave experience as well as Jesus Christ on His cross both saw, their stories were FAR from over.  Even when it seemed from a human perspective that the final sentences in their life stories were being written by those who had their demise in mind, the Father is the One who calls us home.  And similarly, even in the dark times we face, it is important to remember that our continued existence is the very proof that the final sentence in our story has yet to be written.  The final appearance of both Elijah and Jesus Christ on Earth was their victorious ascension to heaven, not on their enemies’ terms but on the Lord’s.

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If you are reading this article then it stands to reason that you are probably still here on this planet Earth.  And that means you still have a purpose to accomplish and work left to do.  More importantly, the stories of others are waiting for YOU to intersect with them to launch the next step in THEIR journeys.  Elisha, Hazael, and Jehu were waiting on Elijah to show up and press the “Start Game” button on each of their destinies.  We just have to choose to move past the feeling of being forsaken, get close to the small still voice of the Lord, and hear what He has for us next.  It’s time to move past the shipwreck that may have sent us running off to hide and seize the destiny that the Lord designed for us.  He never abandoned us, He never left us alone, and He will NEVER forsake us.

I’m not going to go back to Destiny 2, but it isn’t because I am still hurting from the loss of my favorite hunter.  It’s because I am moving forward to try some different games, enjoy new experiences, and hopefully get to know some crazy new characters along the way.  I am disappointed Cayde-6 isn’t coming back, but I am glad he was there when I needed him.  My “forsaken” experience with Destiny 2 and the loss of Cayde may have seemed harsh at the time, but enduring it set me free to experience so many other amazing games I wouldn’t have found time for if I didn’t move on.  Similarly, it is only when we choose to leave the “cave of the forsaken” in our lives that we find that the Lord has SO much left for us to do.  Listen to the still, small voice of the Lord… Your “destiny” still awaits you!

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