My friend Martha told a story in Bible class yesterday, and I really want to share it—because this very simple story about a boy playing video games may well change what you do today. And tomorrow. And next week…
Martha doesn’t like video games, but she lets her kids play them sometimes as a reward for good behavior. All they have is an old system with a dated version of Super Mario Brothers. She says it’s so old it looks like it’s one dimensional. She also says the kids hardly notice. They love it—as all kids love the things their mothers most hate.
The other night Anthony (her son) and Preciosa (her daughter) were arguing about how long Anthony was taking with his turn. Preciosa whined, “Whyyyy do you keep playing that same level over and over again?” Anthony, in a moment of total, self-incriminating honesty, said this:
"It’s the only one I can beat and I don’t want to die because I don’t want it to be your turn."
Here is why I love this story: because the very second she gave Anthony’s reason for playing the same level again and again I felt the sting of real conviction. Martha told several of us women at once and when she finished the entire room echoed with whistling and groaning and sighing, all those “that stings” sounds our bodies make reflexively.
We knew we were like Anthony. We all are, at least a little bit. Cause we like safe. And we hate, hate, hate to lose.
I’m afraid way too many of us are living life like it’s level one of Super Mario Brothers, totally oblivious to the excitement and adventure and joy found in level 13.
Have you ever felt drawn to pray for somebody, out loud, right there in the middle of their heart ache or frustration or sadness, and chickened out because it made you uncomfortable?
Have you ever turned down a job opportunity because it made you nervous?
Have you ever been a coward in love because the idea of making yourself vulnerable just seemed too big a step?
Have you ever chosen the easier path exactly because it was easier?
Have you ever held back from doing what you knew would be good because you were scared of losing or failing or (even) dying?
We know, all of us do, that Anthony was missing out, playing that same level, and hopefully we can all see, too, that we’re missing out if we’re living lives of routine and habit, never trying something new, never accepting a challenge, never stepping out in faith.
Today I’m reminding myself that it gets so much better than level one.
I’m gonna take a risk…