Another E3 has wrapped and here we are at the end of an eventful week trying to digest what we have seen and heard and decide if all of our hopes and dreams have been answered with what we were shown. There is a sad sense of melancholy at these events as they wind down and publishers being tearing down their elaborately built displays and the host site removes the larger-than-life banners and decorations that allowed gamers from around the world to become fully ensconced in their hobby for a few glorious days. And as the lights dim and the music ends the expo space slowly disintegrates from a gaming mecca to a sparse and empty room, waiting for the next party to start. Maybe a pharmaceutical company convention will take over, or perhaps the building will be rented to a traveling exhibit of some sorts… one way or another E3 is over and the attendees have nothing to show for it but their well-traveled swag bag full of goodies, a cell phone full of selfies with video game makers and the sights and sounds of E3 continuing to play on in their minds on the flight home as they unpack what was learned.
For me there seemed to be a recurring theme with this year’s announcements and if you are willing to play along I would love to share my feelings with you. Let;s ee if you can pickup the same vibe I got… Bioware revealed an amazing gameplay video for their upcoming “Destiny-esque” title Anthem, which should be out Fall 2018. Spider-Man 4 delivered on everything we collectively hoped would happen when a franchise like Spider-man meets an acclaimed developer like Insomniac… and we will all get our hands on it in 2018. Nintendo finally answered the requests of gamers worldwide by confirming the development of a new Metroid Prime… coming sometime in 2018 or later. Looking forward to a true Pokemon RPG for your Switch? Ask us for more details in 2018. Maybe you drooled over the idea of the Shadow of Colossus remake from Sony… hope you are looking forward to 2018. God of War, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy VII remake, the next Halo… all for your gaming delight sometime in the nebulous future of 2018 or later. Catching a common theme? (Hint: 2018).
Yes, we certainly received some good news about already known or leaked titles for 2017, and I don’t want to pretend that we didn’t. We have a confirmed date on the XB1 X release and it is a pleasant surprise that Mario Odyssey will leap onto our Switch consoles this October. Assassin’s Creed finally confirmed the worst kept secret in gaming and Nintendo debuted the Mario/Rabbids crossover we never knew we needed. But with the sheer volume of highly anticipated games and major reveals that won’t be ready until the next calendar year or beyond it is understandable to walk away from this year’s E3 with a sense of mild disappointment as the message seemed to be “The Future is (nearly) Here!” Many of these games will probably be back at next year’s E3 to tantalize us once again, and we will flip over the hourglass and start the waiting game once again.
As a Christian it can be incredibly frustrating to read amazing promises in the Bible, pronounce them boldly to world around me, and then watch as my problems don’t seem to change. Many times I have claimed a promise as mine only to pray the exact same prayer the next day, the following night, and the following year as the answers to my prayers seem to have a release date around the same time that Half-Life 3 will finally be unveiled. I don’t know if you have had similar experiences, but the time between the promise and the answer can be interminable difficult when the problem is much more serious and the issue much more pressing than the release date of a video game. And as we will find in Scripture, our collective problem is quite common and there is some advice for us that can make the waiting a little more palatable.
King David is famous for many things, but among his many accomplishments was a truly epic collection of songs that he wrote across the many periods of his life. From a shepherd boy to an unlikely hero, from a vagabond fugitive to the king, he lived an incredibly colorful life and fortunately for us documented it all in the form of song. In Psalm 13 verses 1-4 we find an especially painful and pointed song that could have been ripped out of anyone’s heart:
“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest my enemy say,“I have prevailed against him”; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
And that is just one example of the bitterness of soul that David endured as he walked through the valley of the shadow of death many times throughout his life. A full perusal of the Psalms will find that this man with a heart after God routinely reached out in anguish as he feared that his prayers were not being heard and that the Lord did not see him or his struggles. And compared to our daily problems, his loomed pretty large as he LITERALLY faced life or death struggles on numerous occasions. And yet through all of this we see a beautiful sentiment reflect in the final two verses of his desperate prayer:
“But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.”
David wears the mantle of the man after God’s own heart because of statements like this. Whether he was hiding in a cave for his life or running from his murderous son, David knew that his only hope in every situation was to turn to God. This was not a guarantee of immediate results, but while we may prefer the quick fix in life so our pain will subside the Lord sees the entire situation from start to finish and has a plan not for our immediate comfort, but for the salvation of all who are involved. The Lord could have given David victory over Saul quickly, but this would have resulted in a more fractured Israel than the one David eventually inherited after the entire nation finally saw the Saul/David conflict for what it was.
It is hard to wait when we only see the obstacles and the pressing issues of our lives from our vantage point. Much like a driver stuck in traffic who makes the rash decision to take an alternate route rather than wait out the traffic, many times we confuse movement with progress. Certainly there are times that going the long way around may result in a slightly earlier arrival time, but if the driver had the benefit of someone above the situation, perhaps in a helicopter, they could let him know that the issue causing the clogging up of traffic is resolved in a quarter of a mile, and his patience will be rewarded shortly if he simply holds his course. Many times I have taken the detour (both in vehicles and in life) and found that they have only complicated my dilemma. Because of my limited perspective, what appears to be a lack of forward movement can be misinterpreted as my prayers being unheard or ignored. But as we learned in Daniel 10, Daniel’s prayer was heard by God the moment he uttered it but the response was delayed by a spiritual adversary for three full weeks. There are many reasons why the answer to prayer can tarry, but none of them are because God hasn’t heard us or is unconcerned with our problems.
Maybe your problems won’t be resolved fully in 2017. Your answers for what troubles you may be further in the future than you would prefer. I struggle with this daily and when I reach the same place that David did I find solace in realizing he endured the same struggles and still found a place of peace in his storm. I don’t have an evil king bent on murdering me or a son chasing me with murderous intent the way David did either. My problems are a little more mundane. But they still seem huge to me, and yours are just as important to God even if the fate of a nation is not on the line. But like David, we can rejoice because the Lord has still shown us mercy that we truly do not deserve and given us the gift of salvation that we could not attain any other way. Our biggest and most important life struggles are already resolved in those phrases. And as we realize that He has never left us or forsaken us at any point and has actually ordered our steps just so we could receive His gift of salvation, that should encourage us that He does not view our salvation as a one-and-done process. He continues to remain invested into our problems and our lives, and even if the eventual answer is further ahead than the release of Kingdom Hearts 3 it is still assured to be right on time. Just ask David, who in Psalm 37 put the matter to rest once and for all:
” Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth.”
It may seem like a long way off, but I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy 2018. And until then… I will be waiting on the Lord because He hasn’t let me down yet.