Stubborn Love – My Love Affair with SEGA (Exodus 16-32)

 

I will admit that I have always been a Sega fanboy.  I come by my Sega love honestly – it all started one night at a friend’s house when he invited me to play a video game.  Being a proud owner of a NES, I was a little curious about what game system he had in mind.  See, in my world all I had played to that point were Atari games, a few Commodore 64 titles, some Intellivision, and on weekends if I was really lucky I could hit the arcade at the mall.  If I just lost you with those references, all I can say is you missed out on the golden age, my friend.  Not being sure what we were about to play, I approached his console with trepidation – it was jet black and shiny, not like my gray, homely looking little NES box.  I saw the name – GENESIS – and then watched as he placed a copy of Altered Beast into the system and turned it on.  Suddenly, I was transported to the arcade – to my young mind the graphics were unable to be believed!  I heard real spoken dialogue (well, a few words, but still)!  Such concepts were unbelievable, and I realized I was meant to follow Sega with blind loyalty from that point on.

I was certain I had finally backed a winner

This continued into my young adulthood, as I stubbornly purchased a Sega Saturn and a copy of Rayman while all my friends were talking about this new-fangled PlayStation thing that Sony cooked up, and some odd looking orange character named Crash Bandicoot.  I mean seriously, Sony, video games, and some giant rodent?  I just KNEW that would never last. And when the PS2 hit, my friends were certain I would finally drink the Sony kool-aid.  But not this guy, ohhhh no.  Sega Dreamcast ALL the way – with Soul Calibur, Power Stone, the 2K sports series, I was certain I had finally backed a winner.  But alas, the over-powered, under-supported Dreamcast faded into obscurity while Sony has continued to thrive to this present day.  I sit in a home now with two Sony PS3 systems, a Sony PS4, and even a Sony Vita handheld painfully conceding defeat, but still secretly holding out hope that there will be a day when Sega will rise and make the glorious return I always believed they were capable of, and I can finally say “I told you so!”.

Unfortunately for me, the possibility of a Sega industry comeback is as incredibly unlikely as my beloved Arizona Cardinals winning the Super Bowl.  I guess I am a sucker for the hard luck case, the under-achiever that still has potential.  Fortunately, I am in good company.  The stories of Moses have been told and retold for generations, epically portrayed in cinema, and to this day he stands as arguably the defining figure of the Biblical Old Testament.  But it is not all of the miracles, or the signs, or the confrontations with the leader of the world at that time that I am interested in today.  No, it is something a whole lot simpler, something much more human and mundane yet infinitely heroic and amazing, that I find inspiring in the character of Moses.  Only this time, instead of Genesis, this story starts with the word Exodus…

Hunger pains were met with freshly baked doughnuts from heaven

In chapter 32 of Exodus we find Moses on top of a mountain, talking to God about a very unpleasant situation.  This is right after the Israelite nation had escaped from Egypt after over 400 years of slavery.  One would expect that after the supernatural displays of power God had shown through Moses the people that he had freed would be as eternally grateful as a group of 3-eyed aliens pulled out of a dispenser by Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 2.  I mean, they witnessed some of the most amazing miracles in the history of the Bible en route to a dramatic aquatic finishing move on their enemies that only God could orchestrate, and yet the next two chapters after this are filled with their faithless, impatient, incessant complaining.  Whining about water was answered by a stream of fresh H20 courtesy of a rock, hunger pains were met with freshly baked doughnuts from heaven (my interpretation of manna), and when their delicate palettes cried ‘Where’s the meat?”, they were they recipients of a fresh, hot, juicy quail buffet courtesy of God’s desert delivery service.  And all Moses asked of them was to sit tight at the base of the mountain while he climbed up and downloaded instructions from God.

So here we are, forty days later.  Moses is receiving the final details on God’s rules, and after the final line is written God gives Moses a very solemn update on the situation below.  Their impatience reaching a boiling point, the people below had launched into a drunken celebratory orgy, claiming their new deity of choice to be a golden cow they had created from their own jewelry.  I will let that sink in for just a moment.  After all of the amazing, supernatural events these people had witnessed and in point of fact owed their very lives to, they still chose to proceed with a hand crafted counterfeit that had no value other than the gold they had contributed to its creation.  It is easy to sit here and say that I cannot imagine how anyone could be so blind as to ignore the very real existence of God and choose such a paltry fake in His place, but then I would be condemning myself and every one of us as well.

God intervenes personally in our lives on a daily basis

The sad fact is God intervenes personally in our lives on a daily basis in ways that we refuse to acknowledge, and yet we will give the credit rightfully due to him to any number of circumstances or personal creations.  When we lose our job, we blame God, but when we get a promotion we claim it is our intellect, hard work, and preparation that provided for us.  When we get in a traffic accident, we believe it is because God failed to protect us, but when an ambulance just happens to be nearby and able to respond quickly, we miss the reality that it was God’s mercy and providence that had the solution prepared.  Immediately I realize that before I judge the people at the bottom of the mountain too harshly, I must recognize that this same attitude continues to this very day, in each and every one of our hearts, and it is only because God has been seen fit to cleanse my heart of these desires that I am free from its grasp.  And I believe that this same compassionate mind was present in Moses, as we see the conclusion to the drama unfold.

God was making Moses an offer that almost nobody on the planet could have refused…

God’s jealous anger reaches a crescendo, and He instructs Moses to give Him some space, because He is going to wipe them all out.  And then He extends to Moses the promise He had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob so many centuries before – that God would make Moses and his family the building blocks of a new nation, without any of the challenges Moses was currently facing with these people.  Incredible.  God was making Moses an offer that almost nobody on the planet could have refused – a fresh start with preferred status and none of the overhead.  And then we see the true character of Moses, the reason he was chosen as the leader of God’s people, and was named as God’s friend – He compassionately and selflessly appeals to God’s mercy and begs for forgiveness on behalf of those who at this point had no hope, no redeeming qualities warranting their pardon, and were even now in the act of shaming themselves before God.  Moses refused to give up on these people, people that we would all have given up on immediately, especially when God offered Moses a personal “Get out of the Desert Free” card.

That is blind, stubborn, fanboy love right there.  Moses could have taken the easier path, and nobody would have blamed him.  He could have taken the shiny offer from God and ran with it all the way to the bank, but Moses would walk in the desert until the day of his death with this ungrateful, hopeless group of people… because he loved them and would carry them on his back if he had to in order to get them to the Promised Land.  We will leave the story there for now, with Moses convincing God to offer a stay of execution for those that had not earned it, and God actually changing his mind and listening to the voice of a man.  I cannot pretend for a moment to have the capacity for love that Moses carried for that group of people.  True, I have illustrated how steadfastly I have clung to my underdog favorites in various areas of my life, but this takes the whole concept to a whole new level.

Jesus chose to be savagely beaten and murdered by the very creatures He had created

To stubbornly believe in and love those who don’t deserve it, to love them hard enough and strong enough to turn away the very judgment they have rightfully brought upon themselves – that is not only the characteristic of Moses on display here, but it is the very embodiment of Jesus’ mission here on Earth as well.  Jesus has given us what we don’t deserve (love, grace, and the opportunity to have eternal life) rather than what we have earned (punishment and judgment), and for Him it came at an incredible and painful cost.  Moses chose to fight, suffer, and eventually die alongside his people rather than take the easy path.  Jesus chose to be savagely beaten and murdered by the very creatures He had created rather than sit comfortably in Heaven and watch us struggle and fail.  This is what it means to be a Christian – a follower of Christ.  To take a pass on what would benefit us personally, and instead take the goodness of God to those who have done nothing to deserve it.

Maybe for you it takes a different form than it does for others.  For some, it is a call to the mission field to bring God’s message to those who have never heard it, turning away from all of the comforts of home.  For others, it is devoting themselves to a life of serving others, giving their extra time to helping the less fortunate around them.  Or maybe it is more personal for you – maybe it is someone or a group of people in your life that simply don’t deserve your forgiveness, your help, or your love.  But just like my beloved, dust-covered Sega Saturn which is this very day lovingly resting in a box in the garage, it is not about the qualities of the object of affection – it is about YOU and the choice you make to love in spite of the challenges.  To love the way the way Moses loved, the way Jesus loved… in a way that doesn’t see what others say, or what the current condition of the situation is, but simply chooses to love and sees the beautiful potential rather than what currently exists… well, that takes a blind, stubborn love.  The same way God still loves us to this day.  We are all recipients of this incredible love, and the primary condition upon receipt of this is to give it away!

 

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