This was the result of about a week or two of soul-searching, during which I was playing video games in almost all my spare time (Sid Meiers’ “Civilization IV” if you want to know). Of course, as a college student, husband, father, blogger and National Guard Soldier I don’t have much spare time to begin with, and you might wonder, as I did, what the harm is in playing a turn-based strategy game on my downtime? Everyone needs to unwind, right? I was still making all my daily prayer times, getting to class on time, taking care of Evie, spending time with Kathleen, even getting all my papers turned in on time. Where is the harm in a few hours a week of video game?
And yet, during my prayer time I got the distinct impression that Jesus was looking at time spent playing that game with something resembling a frown. I didn’t feel that He was angry about it, or that He was regarding it as a sin. Rather, I felt He was getting impatient with it, sort of like, “When are you going to quit playing around with that and surrender your spare time to me? I have use for it.”
At the same time a fairly involved writing project was slowly taking shape in my mind, and instead of getting started on writing it, I was playing video games. Unexpected free time would come up, and with it the certainty that it was given to me so that I could start writing. I wanted to start writing. I had every intention of writing and… I would open up Civ IV instead of MS Word.
I was hesitating, I was delaying doing what I knew Jesus wanted from me. That was sin.
As I said, I wrestled against it for two weeks. Then my cousin started NaNoWriMo, and I decided that I had to do it too. The writing project is not just a fun hobby, but somehow a means of Grace that Jesus wants me to explore. I gave up video games, told my wife I was giving them up, and posted it on facebook. Now if any of my friends see me drifting towards the games again, they have leave to call me out on it and hold me to account. I set to work writing, and I am a little over 12,000 words into it so far.
Recently during a rosary or morning prayer or something where I was saying the Our Father, the line, “Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” jumped out at me.
How many millions of times have I said that prayer, and that line has never hit me as it has over the last few weeks. Kathleen and I were talking it over when I shared it with her and we agreed that it was actually a terrifying prayer, when you really think about it. I mean really, we are praying that we be given the grace to obey God the way the saints and angels in Heaven obey Him. Kathleen described it as “Instant and complete obedience to absolutely every single little command.”
That is why I had to give up video games, not because they are bad. They aren’t necessarily bad. It is not even because I have other things that I can do that are better, like reading, writing, exercising, spending time with friends and family, or praying. I do have all of those things which will make me into a better person than gaming ever could, but that is not the reason. That is a consequence of the reason. The reason is that Jesus wants me to.
That’s it. There is no other reason necessary. Absolute and total obedience is a simple duty of the creature to the Creator, of the child to the Father, of the redeemed to the Redeemer. Giving up games is one step in the pursuit of that goal of perfect, total obedience, one simple, easy little step. The difficulty I had in taking it has more to do with my own lack of love than any inherent difficulty in that step. After all, obedience unto death is our model and our standard. As I am beginning to suspect, it is not even a special call reserved for the few, but a simple requirement for getting into Heaven.
But more on that some other time.