Well… E3 2021 came and went and while there were a few nice surprises (Metroid Dread, Guardians of the Galaxy) and a handful of expected release window reveals (Breath of the Wild 2, Elden Ring), there was one large announcement that should be voted by all of its classmates as “most likely to have farther reaching implications than we may have realized”. Video games come and go, and only a handful truly represent a paradigm shift that dramatically changes the gaming industry. But most of us recognize the Elder Scrolls series as a watershed moment in console gaming… both Oblivion and Skyrim introduced many gamers to the action/RPG genre for the first time, and their influence still reverberates to this day in just about any open world game that releases. Sure, there were RPGs and open-world games that existed prior to these mega-hits, but none were so genre-defining as the Elder Scrolls series. Bethesda didn’t just break the mold, they turned around and RESOLD us that mold in about 18 different, slightly improved releases… complete with over-priced horse armor for good measure.
Okay, maybe eighteen is a bit of a stretch, but you get my point. We HAPPILY repurchased Elder Scrolls Skyrim on different platforms, in “legendary” editions that included additional content, and then again in VR because why not add motion-sickness to the equation. So when Bethesda was purchased and absorbed by Microsoft, the immediate concern shifted from “When will we get our hands on their next big title?” to “Will it even come on the console I possess?”. And unless you are (or plan to become) the proud owner of a fancy Xbox Series S/X console, I have some tough news for you. You… ummmm… you may want to sit down. Honestly, I kind of assumed you were sitting down. I mean, who is reading this much stuff standing up? At any rate, the next big game from Bethesda absolutely looks amazing. It was described by the developer as “Skyrim in space”, which may be the three most beautiful words uttered in the English language, right after “Want some fries?”. But I would pick my feet up off of that rug if I was you, because it is about to be pulled out from underneath anyone who happens to be exclusive to the PlayStation family of consoles. It… well… it isn’t coming. Not for you.
This was always a potential outcome from the Microsoft acquisition, but that doesn’t make it any easier to absorb for those who can’t or won’t pick up a new Xbox between now and the launch of Starfield. And it also opens up a much more problematic line of questions… what about the next Elder Scrolls game? Or Dishonored? Or any of the rest of Bethesda’s future titles? While we have observed that Microsoft played nice with their acquisition of the Minecraft franchise by continuing to release it on all current platforms even after they purchased it, it seems that the gloves are off now. Starfield console exclusivity on the Xbox is certainly a bitter pill for Sony owners to swallow, and there will likely be more to come. But before we start to villainize either side in this battle for exclusive content, let’s stack up the reality for all three sides. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft all unapologetically generate games for their specific consoles within their in-house development studios, and we have all learned to accept that Mario and Link will not be crossing paths with Master Chief or Kratos at any point in the future. But when a title that previously existed in a “platform agnostic” state is suddenly taken off of the market, it can feel much more frustrating and perhaps even taken a little bit personally. We were accustomed to a fluid situation with a level of accessibility that didn’t force us to choose a side, and now we are being pressed to make an uncomfortable decision.
It is a fairly universal understanding that supporting ANY of the various religious options present on this planet involves making a decision. Even the choice to pursue an agnostic or atheistic viewpoint is still a decision, and these decisions inform our choices throughout the rest of our lives. But what may NOT be immediately obvious is that the decision to follow Christ is not merely one singular decision, but the beginning of MANY decisions that will take the wide road we were previously traveling on and narrow it down to His perfect destination for each of us. And every one of these decisions tend to move us from one location of mild discomfort to another… with each step on the path full of even MORE strange places, unfamiliar faces and undesired challenges. And few people embody the complexities and sacrifices involved with this walk of faith better than Abraham, the patriarch of the entire Jewish nation.
Abraham’s story starts off pretty simple…
Genesis 12:1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.
Cool, cool, cool…. just leave everything you have ever known, every ONE you have ever known, and just… I don’t know. Just go and you will know once you get there. To his credit, Abraham did exactly what he was told. He packed up at the ripe old age of 75 and headed towards Canaan.
Genesis 12:4-6 So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land.
Well, here we go. We MADE it. Nobody asking “Are we there yet” from the back of the camel… time to pitch some tents and settle down in the Promised Land. Right? We are settling down in the Promised Land…. right?
Genesis 12:7-9 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.
So… this land of Canaan was clearly part of the long-term plan, but we weren’t exactly done here yet. Settling down was not in the cards for ol’ Father Abraham… he went down to Egypt for a spell (Genesis 12:10), came BACK up to this same place (Genesis 13:3), split from Lot and went to Hebron (Genesis 13:18), traveled from there to Gerar (Genesis 20:1-2), headed out to Beersheba (Genesis 22:19), and eventually back to Hebron (Genesis 23:2). The nomadic travels of Abraham led him from one adventure to another, with his path intersecting with kings, priests, armies, and more. He made great decisions in some places, horrible decisions in others, but all along the way he followed the path the Lord was placing him on because the journey he was on was not merely TO a destination… the journey WAS the destination.
Our choice to follow Christ is merely step one on an adventure that will take us the rest of our lives to finish. It is not simply some new piece of “flair” that we wear next to our name tag while going back about our regularly scheduled routine. It changes EVERYTHING about our lives and influences every decision we make going forward. If it seems like every step you are making is slowly making you a little more uncomfortable, a little less self-sufficient, and putting you in gradually more challenging situations, guess what. You are on the CORRECT PATH. Our walk is a path of continually removing our self-sufficiency and placing all of our trust, our burdens, and our cares on the Lord. If we aren’t in over our head, then we haven’t ventured out past the point of our own capability yet.
Many fans of Bethesda’s games are unhappy that Starfield is forcing players to make a choice that some may not have been ready to make yet (or at all)… either purchase a console you don’t currently own, play it on a PC, or choose not to play it at all. But this may only be one of MANY choices that are coming down the road as Bethesda makes additional decisions regarding their future releases. While the lack of access on other platforms is certainly disappointing for those who possess those platforms, the reduced complexity in making this title for multiple consoles has some fairly serious silver linings. Starfield will be able to release sooner (next year!) because the developers aren’t burdened with crafting this title for distinctly different consoles. And because of the limited platform variations, the title should be significantly more polished and feature less game-breaking bugs than it would have otherwise (cough cough CyberPunk 2077). And in an additional perk, those who have gone “all-in” on Xbox will even be able to play the game day one with their current “Game Pass” membership.
Similarly, the decision to serve the Lord also brings some limitations that may exclude choices we previously enjoyed. The choice to remain exactly where we are, comfortably going through the motions with a new eternal destination once we graduate from this life is not in the cards for any of us. The choice to follow Christ is an ACTIVE choice that will compel us to KEEP moving through continually challenging positions… forcing us into new challenges that place us well outside of our comfort zones and into uncharted waters. Every time Abraham set his foot down in Canaan he was taking a step inside of his inheritance (Genesis 13:17)… he was already IN the Promised Land. But there was more to his destiny than simply booking his train ticket to Canaan… he walked, met some new people, walked some more, went to war with some other people, walked a bit more, had a son (the wrong way), walked a bit farther, had another son (the Lord’s way), and then guess what. He kept GOING. At the age of 75 Abraham had JUST started his story. The next one hundred years of his life were one adventure after another as he began a journey of abandoning his own ways and leaning on the Lord… one uncomfortable decision at a time.
Our walk of faith is not just a choice that exists in a vacuum… it impacts each and every decision we make from that point forward. Steps that we could have taken WITHOUT the Lord and His power leading us aren’t steps we should be taking, because the whole point of the journey is live the life that we could not live WITHOUT Him. Honestly, that is kind of the entire story of Abraham as summarized in Hebrews 11…
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:8-10 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
The “things” we hope for and the “things” we have not yet seen are PLURAL for a reason… because there is going to be more than one. That is kind of how plurals work. There are MANY things we will be continuing to press forward into as we continue this path… each more difficult to see and lacking in discernable substance than the next. If we can make it happen on our own, it is NOT our destiny. If we can build it, it is NOT where we are meant to stay. If the decisions that lie ahead in our path don’t push us past the sacrifices we were prepared to make, force us outside of our comfort zones, and press us into a deeper state of reliance on the Lord, then we haven’t actually moved FORWARD yet… only sideways. Our relationship with the Lord is not merely making one exclusive choice to serve Him… it is the beginning of a path marked with decisions to place our trust exclusively on Him as the water gets deeper, the storm gets louder, and the stakes get higher. Even Jesus found that if you can still carry your cross alone, you haven’t hit the hardest part yet (Luke 23:26). I hope this encourages you today to push into that next point of decision… even if it is foreign, uncomfortable, and contains a higher level of risk. He gave you a destiny to possess, one uncertain footstep at a time. Take that next step of faith today… the deeper waters beckon and these stars aren’t going to explore themselves.
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