I am a child of the 80s. I grew up in the world of Reagan, Rubik’s cubes, and Teddy Ruxpin. MacGyver is a verb, and “Whatca talkin’ bout Willis” has replaced the understated, “What?” I am most likely the last of the last generation to know the joy of playing outside all day, taking the bike for a ride to a neighbor’s house, which in those days encompassed any house within the neighborhood or the next one over. We might have called home throughout the day, but for the most part, we knew to check in for lunch and be back by dark or when you heard the whistle kept by the back door blown by your mother. Then America’s Most Wanted hit the airwaves, and the dangers of the world seemed closer and the parameter of our playgrounds got smaller.
About that same time electronics were taking off and if you grew up in the 80s you can hear music from an old school game and see it in your mind. I personally didn’t play many video games, I do remember Texas Instruments and TI Invaders; we had a blast playing it. My cousins had Duck Hunt; which was fun aside from the smug dog, and I remember watching them play Mario Brothers. For the most part though, I was disinterested, I’d rather watch Webster.
I say I was disinterested in video games for the most part because one game, Tetris, has been a gift to my life. A puzzle, beat the clock, hand- eye coordination all rolled into one; a skill for life. You have a crapload of boxes to fit in a small car? Tetris skills to the rescue. That, and my dad is a champion at packing a car. You alright! I learned it by watching you! You need to rearrange your day to fit it all in? Tetris skills again! I had a job as a nanny for a woman who on one occasion was going to a special event at her daughter’s preschool then continuing on to work. With only one car seat, she wasn’t sure how she was going to take her daughter to school and get the seat back to me so I could pick up her daughter after school. I said, we can follow you, you can go into school with your daughter, and I’ll have the seat to pick her up when school is over. She was super impressed with my “good thinking under pressure.” I was convinced if that woman had played Tetris as a kid, she would have come to the same conclusion.
My point is, so few times can we say that games we’ve played as children have equipped us with tools for life. Monopoly is punishment, Connect four is fun until it isn’t, Uno is the gateway game to gambling, and Tetris is a skill set for problem solving without the annoying music. Over the years I’ve seen countless times when I’ve played the game in real life. Bills, schedules, priorities; each time I am the player and the pieces need to be moved to fit just right. As with all things, sometimes things end up tidier than others. That’s life.
I was recently thinking about some things going on and praying about them. I found myself praying about my situations and thinking as though I was looking at the Tetris screen with God, imagining us working on the items together. As the pieces started filling up and the top of the screen was getting closer and closer my anxiety grew greater and greater, and then I felt the gentle kindness of God letting me know that I was not in the right spot. So, as any adept Tetris player would, He moved me around until I fit properly into the game. He has the perspective I cannot see, He knows what pieces are coming next, He created the pieces that are coming next, and He is in no way anxious about any of it.
I so often forget that God is molding me, changing me, flipping me upside down and sideways, and whatever way He wants to get me to fit into His plan. I may not like it, and I may not see the whole picture, but I see the One who is manipulating those pieces, and He is good and trustworthy, and kind.
I want to be sensitive to the fear or apprehension of some reading this who may think I am implying God is in some way a cosmic bully who pushes us into the corners He wants us to be in when He wants us in them. I do not believe God operates that way as an MO. I believe there are times God may force the issue through life circumstances, but I really believe all along the way He gently and kindly is asking us to join Him on the journey. If we are listening, we are stepping in time with His requests and we feel more like we’re dancing than being pushed around.
No decries. No decrees. No desires granted. No dreams fulfilled.
We need to repent because Christ died, while we were sinners. He took our punishment, our death, our sins. He took that on Him. God put our sin on His Son so that we may know Him, “the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
And now, we must repent, have a change in our mind, if you will, and put on Christ. We must put on Christ not because He is going to fix our relationships, take care of our depression, stand for black lives, give us a great business idea, make it alright between our co-workers and managers, heal that hip or shoulder that has nagged us for years, or have someone pay for our groceries in a time when we really need that $72.88 for something else.
We need to repent and put on Christ, have the mind of Christ so that we may know Him, ” the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent,” as it is written in John 17.
For far too long, we have lived off that magic prayer at some youth meeting or holiday service and believed that if we do good here and there, we were saved.
Like the lepers, we were slowly dying without ever knowing it and thought that our separation was because only God understood us but in truth, God separated us so that we would never infect others of our unrepentant sins. “You hypocrite! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).
It is time to put first things first. Make the main things the plain things and the plain things the main things. We need to learn of God’s ways and follow Christ. Put away our dreams, our visions, our plans, our clocks, our calendars, our life coach’s strategies and “…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [food, water, clothes, i.e. the basics to live] will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).