Cut, Paste, Compromise
There was a season that I was in a while back where God impressed upon me strongly that I needed to walk away from video games. Now, this is not me saying that video games are bad and it’s against the will of God for you to play them. What I am saying is that in that particular season, it was God’s will for me to abstain from playing video games.
They can be a significant distraction for me and at one time they were a means of escape. Instead of dealing with the chaos that my life had become, or the disappointment or whatever, I could instead be a fire-wielding elf or a starship captain or a post-apocalyptic survivor. Whoever I choose to be was a far cry from the girl that was in control. Which come to think of it was probably at least some of the draw, I could have some control on that television screen because Lord knows I had none over anything else in my life. They were a tool that I used quite frequently for embarrassingly large amounts of time.
I knew when God started laying this conviction on my heart it wasn’t necessarily about what I was playing but the motive behind me doing it. I needed to run to Him rather than a game system. I needed to contend with the real-life spiritual forces rather than digital foes. I needed to lay down that crutch and surrender even more to God. So I did, though I would be lying if I tried to say it wasn’t a difficult surrender. I had built a lot of my personality around being the gamer girl and here I was packing away my controllers.
I can look back now and say that I’m so happy I did. This was a thing I was passionate about, but the One that I loved had asked me to and I was faced with the ultimate question: Do I love God more than video games? There wasn't enough room for both.
As time went on I started to learn how to function without that crutch. God walked along beside me as I began to heal from those painful things that I was hiding from and now instead of getting excited to play a video game when I was alone I was getting excited to worship and pray.
Then I had these wonderful friends come along, people that really loved God and that He was using in these amazing ways and they played video games! Oh, how I enjoyed sitting and talking to them about all of the old games that I used to play and little by little this nagging little whisper began to form, “If they can do it surely you can play as well.” And so the compromise came.
Were my friends in the wrong because they played video games? Not in the least. Was I in the wrong when I finally caved and bought the video game that I had been “just looking at” almost every time we went to the store? Absolutely. This is about my personal convictions and in those I failed.
I feel like this was a really long setup to get to the point…
Point: Don't be like Amanda. Don’t look at other people’s convictions and cut and paste them over top of your own.
“You say, "I am allowed to do anything"--but not everything is good for you. You say, "I am allowed to do anything"--but not everything is beneficial.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:23 NLT
God knew what He was doing. (Go figure, right?) He knew what was going to be beneficial to me and what was not. Here’s the thing about our surrenders to God: our perspective shouldn’t be “I have to” but instead “I get to”. I got to be free from the thing that had me enslaved. In Jesus that freedom was offered, a freedom that I would never have been able to know on my own.
God wasn’t trying to be a cosmic killjoy. He wasn’t trying to remove all of the good things from my life. He wanted to give me something so much better; He wanted me to have more of Him. That was where faith came in and that was where I failed. I forgot that this is not a one size fits all type of deal.
There’s this story in Jeremiah 35 about a group of people called the Rechabites. If you have a few minutes it’s worth a read, but for all of you who don’t here’s the gist of it. God tells Jeremiah to go and invite this group of people, the Rechabites, into the temple and offer them some wine. So he goes and gets the people, brings them to the temple, sets cups and jugs of wine in front of them, and invites them to drink. But they refuse, their ancestor had commanded that they never drink wine (among other things) and they stayed true to their convictions. Then God does something amazing, He uses them as an example to the whole of Judah and Jerusalem of how to obey God! I want to be that!
They followed the command even though others did not. It wasn’t the others’ command! But to those that it was spoken to, to them fell the responsibility to obey.
It’s not our job to figure out why God is asking us to surrender however He is. It’s only our job to obey. Where I got all tangled up with this was the classic “it’s not fair” mentality. It wasn’t fair that they could play and I couldn’t. It wasn’t fair that I was asked to sacrifice this thing that they were not. It wasn’t fair that they were being used by God while they were doing this thing forbidden to me. It wasn’t fair.
But who am I to be the judge of what’s fair? You know what isn’t fair? Jesus dying for the sins that I willingly committed. So if we’re going to get into the ‘what’s fair’ debate then we better prepare to lose every time. It didn’t matter if I thought it was fair; the only thing that matters is what is right.
“Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”
- James 4:17 NLT
Once God has spoken (or impressed or whatever other verbiage you use) convictions into our hearts it is now our responsibility to follow through—not start looking for an excuse not to. The Rechabites could have done that, they could have said, “Well the great prophet Jeremiah invited us into the temple specifically for us to drink wine with him. Surely if Jeremiah is okay with it then we could just this once.” No! They stood strong in their convictions, regardless of who else stood with them.
We need that! Especially in this day and age, in this culture of compromise. We need to begin standing firm in what God has spoken to us, even if we are the only ones. We don’t answer to others, but someday we will answer to Him. That is the day we should be keeping our eyes set on, all else matters not in the face of that ultimate goal. I am living for the “well done, good and faithful servant” from my Father, not the comfort of compromise.
And here’s where this story comes full circle. I spent a few hours this Mother’s Day playing video games with my girls. No conviction, no condemnation. This specific conviction was for a season, so I could learn the lesson and grow in my relationship with God and when it was safe, God returned them to me, because now I could be trusted with their use. But even if not, even if it was forever, He is worth so much more than anything we could possibly hold on to in His place.
Written by Amanda Strauser