I suppose I always knew this day could come, but I still wasn’t READY. It was too soon… and it seemed completely unnecessary. Here I was, minding my own business, simply scrolling through the Xbox Game Pass update to see what was new and maybe download something I am interested in (but will probably never get around to playing), and then…. BOOM. As I scrolled down through the newly available titles I reached the “Leaving Soon” category, and there it was, sitting so nonchalantly, as if it wasn’t about to completely ruin my day. Causally listed inside of the list of games leaving the service was “Moving Out”, a game I truly enjoyed in the little time I had played it. And now it was going to be GONE before I was ready to say goodbye. I mean, I wasn’t even CLOSE to being finished with it. I didn’t stop playing it because I didn’t like it… I just got caught up with other games. And now I won’t have time to finish it, because it is leaving with very little warning. Other new games are popping up to take it’s place and maybe nobody else will notice that it’s gone… but I will. This week I even saw that the Kingdom Hearts titles are leaving the service, and I had JUST started getting playing the new versions. And now it seems I have run out of time with them, too.
Part of what makes the Game Pass service great is that the membership gives access to SO many unique and diverse gaming experiences, from older classic games to even some of the newest releases. But with this access comes a cost, and I am not just talking about the monthly membership. The Game Pass service is a harsh reminder that I do not OWN any of these games, and my ability to play them is completely predicated on the deal that was made between the publisher of the title and Microsoft. Once that time has expired, the game will disappear from the library with little to no warning… which is a sad but necessary part of the process. While part of the access is probably intended to provide enough time with a game to make a full purchase of the title, the reality is I don’t have an unlimited gaming budget. I simply can’t afford to purchase every single one of these games simply to continue playing them… the whole reason I have this service is to play all of the games I couldn’t afford to play otherwise. So for me, when they are gone from the Game Pass service, they are GONE for me… and I have to endue the melancholy and painful operation of deleting them from my hard drive to make space for whatever is coming next, because the path behind me has been sealed off emotionlessly, resolutely, and with finality.
This one is going to be a bit personal for me, because I am going to share about someone that I have lost. But before we get there, we have to understand a few fundamental but inconvenient truths. First, similar to the Game Pass service, we all enter into this life at different points and for different periods of time. And we are all existing on borrowed time from day one of our entry into this community…
Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
But even though we understand this as a concept, the reality of loved ones being “removed” from our access on this plane of existence is never easy to process or accept. Sometimes we can see this exit coming from a long way away, and other times it simply occurs without any warning, providing no time for preparation or negotiation. And in these stunning and tragic moments the first thing we may do is blame ourselves for not prioritizing them when we had the chance, thinking of all we left incomplete, unsaid, and unfinished. The pain of loss is hard enough, and when it is compounded with all of the regrets of what was missed and what “could have been”, we can fall into a vortex that can feel impossible to escape from. So since these painful, premature goodbyes aren’t going to end, it’s time for some answers to our “Moving Out” predicament.
In 2 Samuel 12 we find the tragic ending to one of the darkest chapters in the Bible… the death of the son born from the affair of King David and Bathsheba. Both David and Bathsheba had not only committed adultery against their respective spouses, but David had further doubled down on his sin through a tangled web of plotting and then committing murder to cover it up. As David finally owns up to his exponentially growing slate of horrific sins, we find that the price that will be paid is NOT paid by him, but by the child that was conceived…
2 Samuel 12:13-19 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.” Then Nathan departed to his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them. Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead. For they said, “Indeed, while the child was alive, we spoke to him, and he would not heed our voice. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He may do some harm!” When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He is dead.”
I want to point something that may not seem immediately obvious on the surface because the horror of David’s crimes may have obscured it… this child that was lost was not only lost to David and Bathsheba. This child also had a grandfather, a grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters… more people absorbed this loss than simply the parents. People who had NOTHING to do with the cause of this loss were still impacted by the pain, the sadness, and the seeming injustice of an innocent child being taken into eternity. An entire family lost this unnamed child, and while we do not get any insight on how this impacted anyone other than the primary characters in this story, the emotions we feel as humans have not changed over the centuries. But the first rays of sunshine emerging from the clouds of this loss come from none other than the broken king himself…
2 Samuel 12:20-23 So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
For all of his flaws, David understood that the God that gives is also the God that takes away (Job 1:21). While that can be challenging to accept during our times of mourning and loss, the reason that David is able to move forward is because he understands that he is not moving AWAY from the loss, but TOWARDS a reunion with this child. Every step from this point forward is a step CLOSER to seeing his child again, and on the path between here and there he still had a great many things to do and even an additional child to raise… a pretty important one named Solomon. Maybe you have heard of him?
2 Samuel 12:24 Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Now the Lord loved him, and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord.
The same prophet who brought the dark news of the impending loss of David’s child was ALSO the messenger of good news. God could have chose ANYONE to deliver this news, but He deliberately sent the exact same prophet who delivered the bad news. Why? Because just like the games that come and go from the “Game Pass” service, this is a two-way street. The Game Pass service is both the deliverer of all of the new, fresh games that I look forward to playing as well as the bearer of bad tidings when it is time for one to go into the vault. Consider the words of Job as he endured the painful loss of ALL of his children, his resources, and even his health…
Job 2:9-10 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Like the games I wish I had more time with before they disappear, we will ALWAYS wish we had more time with those we lose. But they are not GONE, they are simply inaccessible to us because they exist in a different place than we are currently occupying. We will experience a joyful reunion with them in due time, but first we have new missions to complete. David had a future king to raise and prepare to take his place when he passed, and he had more enemies to battle to insure his son would NOT have to face them in the future. Our loved ones completed their part of the story, even if that is hard for us to understand right now. But whether their time here was short or long, they have passed the torch to us to continue this relay race and keep the flame moving towards the next pair of hands to carry it.
It is right for us to mourn the loss of our loved ones, and that period of grief is going to be different for each of us as well. Death is not just some emotionless transition to eternity, it is an enemy… the final enemy to be destroyed (1 Cor. 15:26). But the Lord, in His infinite mercy, continues to give us new adventures to take on and new people to invest into so we can insure that the legacy we were gifted with grows and continues into the next generation. Our loved ones would never want us to remain in this place of absorbing their loss and regretting what we wish we could have done differently… they are watching us, even now, and cheering us on as we continue towards our finish line (Hebrews 12:1).
I told you this one was personal… well, here it is. Perhaps the greatest inspiration in my life was my grandmother… she believed in me and encouraged me from my childhood and into my adulthood, through the innocence of my youth to my myriad of sins and moral failures as an adult. Almost every memory I have of her was her listening to a sermon, reading the Bible, or providing love and support to her family. She was always quick with a hug, full of sunshine, and even now I can’t stop smiling when I think of her. She simply radiated joy… and she was my biggest supporter. She never stopped seeing the potential in me even when I made mistake after mistake… she never condemned me even though I was constantly reaping the fruit of the sins I had sown. She also spent her final years in constant pain… she suffered from many health issues and the last time I spoke to her I simply knew that she was reaching the end of her race. And for me it was WAY too soon. I was still a complete mess… I was still dealing with SO many issues and was not even living for Christ at the time. She had believed that I would do things for the Lord with my life… and she passed without ever seeing it. She never saw any of it. And it breaks my heart.
She never got to see me finally start to pull myself together. All the articles I have written, all of the videos my wife and I have recorded, all of the ways I am trying to step into what she always believed I would eventually become… she wasn’t here for any of it. It breaks my heart… because all I ever wanted to do was to make her proud. I desperately wanted to be the man that she saw in me even though the one that I saw in the mirror was NOTHING like it. And while I am still in the process of becoming 1/10th of the person she always thought I was… she was removed too soon to even see the first step of it. Her loss haunts me… not because she is gone, because I know where she is and that she is finally in a pain-free body. It hurts because of what I never got to show her… that she lit a torch inside me that burned too late for her to see it.
Perhaps you have lost someone too soon, and you also feel that your times with them wasn’t finished yet. I know EXACTLY what you mean. But here is the secret that carries me, even now… she is watching from that cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12:1. Right NOW. She is cheering me on to finish what she started so many years ago. And while there are certainly still times that I feel her loss and shed tears for the hugs I won’t feel again on this side of heaven, I know what I need to do. I have to continue exploring new adventures and imparting everything I have been given to everyone I can, for as long as I will be here. My “Moving Out” game is out of the Game Pass service, and others have come to take it’s place. And I will play them, and write about them, and continue to “Find God in the World of Video Games” for as many years as the Lord has given me.
That is the encouragement that I want to leave to you today… whoever you are mourning, whoever you are missing, and whatever you feel was left unsaid or undone… your adventure is not over, either. Speak their name today… not in sadness, but in anticipation. I don’t know when or why certain games come and go from the Game Pass, but I do know that it is inevitable. And we won’t have all the answers to who we lose or why we lost them so soon or in the manner that we did… but we DO have more to do. Those we lost are watching us… cheering for us… and if we follow the path of Christ one day our joy will be complete and we will see them again. So let’s make them proud of what they invested into us… let’s run this race like the champions they always believed that we were. This one is for you Grandma James… I hope I have finally made you proud. I know I am not half the man you always believed I would be, but I am a million times better than the man I would be if it wasn’t for you. I am not moving on from you… I am simply moving forward and carrying the torch that you gave me until it is time for me to pass it off and I finally see you again.
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Categories: Christianity, Uncategorized, Video Games
Thank you for sharing your tale.
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