By Sister Erin Light
I will forever be grateful to my parents for making sure my childhood was chock-full of books, museums, and the great outdoors of trampolines and jungle gyms. That being said, I secretly knew that when we took an airplane flight, Mom would reach into her purse and pull out the elusive Nintendo Gameboy, complete with “Super Mario Land 2.” After takeoff, I’d have a precious hour to fight my way past acrobatic bears and zippy turtle shells until it was homework time and the video game disappeared until the next vacation. It was my chance to “level up” or increase my video game character’s experience by gaining points and special abilities.
We spend the majority of our lives trying to “level up” across different disciplines. At work, we seek promotions and job security. In relationships, we zigzag through “single,” “dating,” “engaged,” and “married.” Education provides us with the golden coins of knowledge and higher degrees. Even teenage driving permits allow parents to progress from “relaxed driver” to “frazzled passenger” with special talents of “invisible-break-pressing expert” and “seat-gripper.”
We reach our first “level up” spiritually speaking on the day of our baptism. I’m sure God was high-fiving the angels and rejoicing as He hit the “reset” button on our video game console. Immediately He loads a new game for us and reaches to take the game controller out of our hands and into His own, ready to steer us through each and every level with His expertise.
But what happened next? Did we hand over control? Or did we say, “Maybe in a few minutes, Lord. I’m not sure You are ready to steer my life.”
Imagine playing a video game with a broken controller. You press “jump” and Mario runs off a cliff. You press “duck” but Mario stands his ground and is hit by a fireball. How frustrating! If the character doesn’t respond to the touch of the controller, the game cannot be played correctly.
When we worry that God isn’t pushing the buttons “our way” we take back the control, despite our inexperience completing levels. Has He been pressing the “testify” button with persistence? Have we felt the “jump” button prompting you to volunteer for missionary work? Do we impatiently pray for answers but surge on ahead of God even though He’d like to leave the game on pause a little while longer?
God asks that we relax, better yet, be still and trust him (Psalm 46:10). You see, He has been playing “life” for a long time (it probably seems like an eternity to Him). Not only did He create the game but He sent His cherished Son to personally complete all the levels on our behalf, providing us with a way to successfully finish the game through salvation. God’s timing is perfect, helping us to narrowly miss obstacles or hurdle over trials with skilled expertise. He sees far past our narrow line of sight and wants our complete trust as He guides our next moves. When we pray, and God answers our prayers, we should allow that experience to strengthen our faith for the next obstacle. If God fixed our last problem, won’t He continue to do the same? This is how we “level up” and move forward with the strength of God.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, ”For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end…And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” God has promised to give us an “expected end.” When completing a level in a video game, the words, “Congratulations” or “Level Complete” appear on the screen. God is so excited when we “level up” through our faith when we allow Him to guide our every move.
Be a Mario, Luigi or a Peach character with a strong connection to the game controller. A Samuel, Helaman or Esther, ready to “go” with the Lord at the push of the spiritual button. Time to hand over your game controller and “level up” with God.