Pikmin Bloom has JUST launched, and if you haven’t downloaded this free-to-play app yet, you are missing out on a VERY compelling reason to walk around outside. Sure, there are those positive side-effects my wife is always telling me about such as fresh air, sunshine, and probably some other kind of healthy aspects that can be found on WebMD… but when you can “gamify” something as mundane and pedestrian as walking, you have my attention. Don’t worry if you have never played a Pikmin game before (although you SHOULD see a gaming specialist to rectify that)… this app has very little to do with the Pikmin game series and is a bit more adjacent to the Pokemon Go mobile game. Pikmin Bloom is a simple game that tracks every step you take in the real world, and as you travel it plants virtual flowers along your path. The more steps you take, the more of these “Pikmin characters” you unlock to follow you around as you travel and interact with the environment. Different types of Pikmin can be found in different places, and each have special abilities that can unlock unique actions in this virtual world. Lather, rinse and repeat every day until the world is covered in virtual flowers and you have amassed a virtual armada of little friends to follow you everywhere you go. What’s not to love? But all of these Pikmin running around and flowers getting planted reminded me of something I had forgotten… to actually finish the Pikmin 3 remake I was SO excited about and never actually completed. And there is a reason why…. not a GOOD reason, but a reason nonetheless.
I have to admit that I have a bit of a problem… as a gamer I have a wide variety of tastes, resulting in several different game purchases throughout the year that must compete against each other for my exceptionally limited leisure time. My excitement level with picking up a new game reaches a fever pitch in the weeks leading up to the game’s launch, culminating with my arrival to the store on day one to pick up the game when it releases. I eagerly install the game on my hard drive and wait the 6-8 weeks for the install to be completed and all of the updates to download… and if I am really lucky I will even get to play the game for a few hours during it’s initial month of release. But then, something unexpected happens… a DIFFERENT game enters the marketplace and the cycle repeats, leaving the game that I was previously playing to gather dust while something new and shiny distracts me. This pretty much happens all year long. Every year. Sure, it’s a good problem to have, but here is the larger problem… I always find my way back to these games eventually, and when I do I have absolutely NO idea what I am doing in the game anymore. Which circles back to my Pikmin 3 problem. I loved playing the game… but I walked away from it for too long to play OTHER games, and now I don’t really remember where I was at or what I was in the process of doing. I don’t want to lose all my progress and start completely over, so where do I go from here?
This predicament pops up throughout our real-world lives… and as believers we can all find ourselves in a place of seeking direction from the Lord. Sometimes it is because we have taken unexpected diversions or other detours in life that moved us off of our previous path and original commitments, and other times it is because we feel stuck in a monotonous rut and trying to figure out why we are not progressing to the next step in His will for our lives. I have been in both of these places far more times than I care to admit. If I am being completely honest, I have made many careless and impulsive choices in my life that had larger ramifications than I had anticipated… decisions that took me off of my walk with the Lord and into other fruitless endeavors. Or there are other times when I feel like I am simply wandering around aimlessly, crying out to God and seeking guidance on His will for my life… but I am met with silence on the other end of the line. So what do we do when we feel like we should be doing SOMETHING… but we can’t quite figure out what that something is?
Finding ourselves stuck in the middle of a mission is a miserable place to be, but figuring out what to do next may not be as complicated as we think. Few people had a relationship with the Lord the way King David did… and David certainly had his share of setbacks, many of which started with the best of intentions but still ended in a disastrous outcome… leaving him in that all too familiar place of wondering what to do next. Let’s take a look…
2 Samuel 6:1-6 Again David gathered all the choice men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the Name, the Lord of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart.And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill, accompanying the ark of God; and Ahio went before the ark. Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the Lord on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals.
Quick synopsis… King David was finally bringing the ark of God, a sacred chest commissioned by the Lord and crafted during Moses’s era, to the capital city of Jerusalem. The ark was a VERY big deal… and there were VERY specific rules for how it was to be handled and transported. Rules that David either failed to read, or perhaps ignored. The results were the same either way… in the midst of David’s celebratory party with tens of thousands of participants rocking out to the newest Jewish contemporary Christian music, tragedy struck that would SERIOUSLY derail the festivities.
2 Samuel 6:6-10 And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled.Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. And David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzzah; and he called the name of the place Perez Uzzah to this day. David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” So David would not move the ark of the Lord with him into the City of David; but David took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.
The Lord had a specific way the ark was to be carried… specifically on poles that went through rings on the four corners of the ark by His assigned priests, so it would not be touched by unclean hands (Exodus 25:10-22). By failing to follow His directions and using a cart to carry the ark, David had caused a disaster that left one man dead, regardless of his good intentions. And now David didn’t know what to do… he still WANTED to bring the ark of the Lord to the city, but because of this setback he let it sit in place for months while he tried to figure out how to move forward from here.
We have all been there… perhaps you are there right now. Maybe you ventured off of the path, or perhaps you are just stuck in the same place for months (or longer) wondering what you are supposed to do next. The answer to both of these questions is the same… let’s let David spell it out for us.
1 Chronicles 15:2-3 Then David said, “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.” And David gathered all Israel together at Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it.
1 Chronicles 15:11-15 And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.” So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.
David went back to the last thing the Lord told Him to do and realized he didn’t actually do what he was supposed to do. In order to move forward he had to go back to the LAST thing he was given direction to do, and do it EXACTLY the way the Lord had commanded him to do it. And once he went back to that previous checkpoint and completed it, he was in a position to move forward in obedience to the Lord and continue on his path. Just like in my Pikmin 3 issue, there is a simple solution to getting back on track with the game… go back to the last checkpoint in which I knew what I was doing, perform the tasks associated with it correctly, and then start moving forward again. Does it involve backtracking? Sometimes… but many times the path forward will only be revealed when I go back as far as I need to in order to complete the LAST thing the game had instructed me to do.
There are certainly times in our lives where we are simply “waiting on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14), but many of those moments in which we feel we are waiting on the Lord is actually a moment in which the Lord is waiting on US. Like the movement of the ark to Jerusalem, there are no shortcuts to completing the will of the Lord. If we do it incorrectly, we can’t simply press “skip this mission” and move forward to the next area. I can’t simply “move forward” in Pikmin 3 either… each mission is predicated on successfully completing the previous one. Many of the prayers I have sent up to the heavens begging God to show me “what to do next” went unanswered… because He already told me what to do next. I just never DID it. And by going back to the LAST thing He had asked me to do and obediently completing it, I could finally move on to what was next.
When we are stuck in a rut or unsure of how to move forward, this is the time to take an honest look back at the last thing we heard clearly from the Lord to do. If that “ark project” is still only half-completed, that is our starting point… even if it means we have to go all the way back to square one to get it done right. The Lord was ANXIOUS to bless David, but David was not able to receive that blessing until he aligned his desire to serve the Lord with the Lord’s very explicit instructions for how that would be accomplished. And the Lord will bless us and give us the desires of our hearts as well… but only if we have committed our way completely to Him in obedience and submission to what He said to do as well as HOW He said to do it. Don’t let the heavenly silence discourage you… instead, be ENCOURAGED to find the place where you left the last ark He told you to carry, and try again HIS way.
As David himself said it best in Psalm 37, we must fully commit our way to Christ… and that includes reviewing the path BEHIND us to make sure we fully completed that last step before we can move forward to the next one. I may have to replay that last mission in Pikmin 3 in order to get going the right direction again… but that is why it gives me an option to replay the previous day as many times as I need to in order to get it RIGHT. Many times when I feel He isn’t answering my prayer I realize He already did… and He doesn’t have anything new to say until I have completed that previous mission FIRST. Let’s look back to the last incomplete step and follow through on what He has asked us… getting out of this rut we find ourselves in is often predicated on completing that previously incomplete task behind us.
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