Don’t you just love this guy when you’re playing Mario Kart?
We’ve all been there (maybe) in a high-stakes Mario Kart race where we were coming first and someone ‘blue-shelled’ us and all seemed lost. Then….booyah! The item box spins up one of these half a lap before the end and…..race won.
Sometimes I fall into the trap of treating life a bit like a Mario Kart race, especially when it feels like I’m losing (we’ve all had those moments) or when it seems like no matter how much effort we’re putting into something it’s just not….working. Or, when things are a bit, I don’t know,……boring?
We naturally want to be winning at stuff and when we’re not, it is so tempting to ‘drive thru every item box’ in order to get the coveted bullet bill. Alternatively; the non-gamer version of the above might be: we go to seminars, to conferences, read books, read articles even pray hoping for a, in fact the, magic bullet.
‘Bam!…and the difficulty’s gone!’
But maybe the toughest lesson that I had to learn about God was he will not be treated by us like some sort of bullet bill who catapults us over the line. Rather, he expresses his love for us by granting us the power to choose him and seek him every day.
That’s tough when you live in a ‘magic bullet’ sort of world.
Advertising is full of magic bullets. Sometimes literally. (Anyone out there got one of those? Does it really juice that well?)
Anyway, I believe that Jesus is all we need but he invites us to seek him constantly. Unless and until we seek him constantly, we’ll be seeking every other thing constantly. The Bible puts it in this language:
Jeremiah 2:13 For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me– the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!
Now for many folks this verse, indeed this subject is nothing new. However, what’s really hit home for me recently is that this is not only (but certainly not less than) talking about seeking God thru spiritual disciplines like bible study, meditation, prayer and so on.
In fact, part of the idea of the classical spiritual disciplines is that we’ll eventually get ‘weaned off’ the magic-bullet idea and realize God’s grace and it’s sufficiency for where we are at during any given moment.
In other words, the more we seek God through the obvious stuff (bible, prayer, community etc.) the more we’ll start seeking God in the not-obvious stuff.
That’s the idea anyway. So how does it begin to work?
I believe we find ourselves starting to ask two important and interconnected questions in more and more ‘run of the mill situations.’ They are:
- What am I doing?
- What/who is it for?
Let me start with question 1.
I am amazed at how little I ask myself this question. I waste so much time being unintentional. What really highlighted this to me recently was a TED talk: ‘in the mind of a master procrastinator’ which you can watch here: (here) …just wait till the punch line at the end.
I guess this is the great risk of the world of entertainment that we find ourselves in. It’s designed to help us lose track of time through passivity to what is really going on. For example, just try and find a window to the outside world in a casino.
Whatever we’re doing, whenever we are doing it, it’s helpful to be more aware of our own activity and test if what we are actually doing measures up with what we set out to do. Which leads me to the next most important question; what/who is it for?
Those of you who were at the recent ‘All Together’ Baptist retreat will know that I have borrowed this language from Allan Demond, who of course borrowed it from his supervisor.
But what a question it is.
It’s a question ‘smoking out’ the motivation for any given activity. It can be a scary one when we apply it to our own activities.
I believe that applying both these questions is the key to and the sign of beginning to seek God in the mundane, everyday, ‘non-spiritual’ activities of life. But to test that belief, I thought I’d do a (quick) mind experiment and see if seeking God in this way could have saved us ‘quite some bother’.
Genesis 3:1-7 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” 2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.'” 4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” 6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
The first 3 verses are essentially Satan getting an audience with Eve and Adam. (Yep, Adam’s standing right there next to here.) Straight away if they ask the question: “What am I/we doing?” the answer comes back: “I/we are talking with and listening to someone who isn’t God, and whom Gad has not introduced us to.” This of course has red flags flying all over it straight away.
Verses 4 and 5 would have been the place to ask: What is this for? Doing so would have revealed the real reason for disobedience and what Satan was trying to do in all it’s stupidity: attempting to be equal to God. This equation is of course reducible to: trying to be God.
That’s a clearly dumb idea for reasons to lengthy to mention here.
Did you notice something?
Satan ‘sucked them in’ by presenting them with a magic bullet.
He’s been doing it ever since.
The real key to life is Jesus (Rev 1:18) and we come to know him by trusting him starting with that first choice and continuing with every subsequent choice in his direction afterwards.
Often, it’s only when we look at where we’ve been do we realize that his Spirit has guided us to and through those choices.