It’s a great time to be a Metroid fan… from the recent re-release of Metroid: Samus Returns, the inclusion of the masterpiece Super Metroid on the upcoming SNES classic, as well confirmation from Nintendo that a new Metroid Prime is finally in development… let’s just call it an embarrassment of riches that we should all be grateful for. The original Metroid Prime games still stand up today and are well worth tracking down if you have the hankering for some excellent first-person exploration. Just do yourself a favor and avoid the abomination that is Metroid Other M. Please. Think of the children…
The original Metroid Prime starts off with a bang, as everyone’s favorite bounty hunter Samus Aran takes down enemies and searches for clues within a derelict space station. All of your suit’s powers are on full display as you fire missiles, transform into a ball and roll around, fire your grappling hook to navigate… you are an unstoppable force of nature laying waste to all who dare oppose you. But at the end of the first level an event occurs that strips you of ALL of your suit’s special abilities, and you spend the entirety of the rest of the game slowly putting yourself back together so you can take on the final boss. After getting spoiled to all of these powerful abilities, you suddenly find yourself quite under-powered for the journey that lies ahead and without the full arsenal of options you had just become accustomed to the world seems a little more hostile and dangerous than it did when you were at full capacity.
Many games have taken this approach over the years, giving you a tantalizing taste of your character with unlimited capabilities and then using a plot device to remove most or all of those abilities so you can spend the next ten to twelve hours gaining them back. This is also common in many theatrical releases, as super heroes such as Iron Man or Thor spend an entire movie trying to get back to a place that they had originally possessed and perhaps had taken for granted when they had it. It almost seems cruel if you think about it. Why give me the taste of the good life if you are just going to rip it away and make me fight to earn it back? But whether you are trying to rebuild your Iron Man armor, prove yourself worthy of wielding Mjolnir once again, or simply trying to get your super suit firing on all cylinders we can all agree that this part of the process is the most time-consuming and painful yet ultimately necessary part of the hero’s journey.
Walking the Spirit-filled life has been a lot like this for me. I remember the glorious feeling of being born again… the excitement of knowing that I was finally who I was meant to become. The world looked and smelled different and I felt connected to God in a way that was impossible to describe. For days I felt a unique euphoria as I listened to praise music in my car and it seemed like the trees were singing along with me as I drove past them. When it was sunny it felt like the Lord was smiling on me. When it rained I just sat and was amazed at how He continues to nurture His creation. And I thought that I would just dance this dance with Him all the way up to the pearly gates. And then, much like our Metroid Prime power armor, it felt like all of it was ripped away piece by piece.
The rain that I previously admired is much less desirable when it is intruding in your home and creating mold that makes your family sick. That glorious sunlight just feels hot and angry when you are sitting on the ground next to your new car that someone just plowed into while you were in a stopped position. Slowly I found myself driving with the radio off and my mind preoccupied with much more mundane considerations such as how to schedule contractors and which credit card has enough room to pay for groceries this week. All that power and joy I had been walking in was stripped away so quickly and replaced with fear, anxiety, and anger.
1 Peter 4:12-13 sheds a lot of light on the issue of power suit problems:
” Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”
Of all the people who experienced this transition into losing power, it is Jesus who understands it best. From having legions of angels to attend to His every thought to transitioning into consciously choosing the challenges of such activities like hunger, pain, homelessness, wood splinters, and (gasp) using the bathroom without the conveniences of indoor plumbing… He dropped his super suit off in the tutorial level and chose to face life the same way we must.
Now to be honest, at first this knowledge didn’t make me feel any better. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get hyped thinking about suffering. I gave my life to the Lord, I’m praying and walking in obedience, and I’m putting on the armor of God as defined in Ephesians. And then it hit me…
The armor of God does not keep you from getting hit… it protects you from being destroyed by the inevitable hits that are coming.
I was disappointed and frustrated that my service to God did not prevent these events that seemed tailor-made to steal my joy and break my spirit. And I was misguided in thinking I was going to bounce from cloud to cloud just because I have chosen to serve the Lord. My armor is protective, but it is not a repellent. And as I walk through life I will continue to achieve growth that unlocks greater capabilities to serve the Lord, and along with that stronger armor will come even greater challenges and trials. In Gamer language, our enemies level up with us. But the joy of my salvation that I started with? That’s mine to keep, as long as I choose to use it.
So if you have been facing tough opposition and have been wondering why everything seems harder now than it did before, don’t panic or give in to stress. It’s not an error in the program and we didn’t make a mistake by choosing to serve the Lord. And He certainly has not forgotten us or is unaware of our struggle. It’s simply our path to assemble our armor. And we can grow in power and in our Spirit-filled walk each day by accepting that our challenge will grow each day as proof that we are growing too. I think I just unlocked the Morph ball… bet that means I’m about to have a use for it!