I absolutely love Super Nintendo. I love my Mario All-Stars, (the original) Mario Kart, Super Mario World, Inspector Gadget(tiny Gadgets come out of his hat!), and Top Gear. Heck, I even loved Mario Paint, although I never owned that one. My friend,however, did own it, along with several other games that I thought were just too cool. Her dad worked for IBM and then Sprint, and let me tell you, she was ahead of the game on everything – it was the early Nineties, after all. She and I remained friend for several years, even after both of us moved to different states. We would take turns in the summer spending one week at my house, then one week at hers. Some of my best memories (of the gaming variety) were watching her and her brother play Metroid and Mario for hours on end in their basement. I recall when Mario Kart came out, and I got a cartridge (yup, cartridge) of my own. I was so excited, but it was Just. So. Hard. I could not get past any of the circuit races, even the slow ones. What was I doing wrong? This was supposed to be awesome! But it wasn’t.
That year, as summertime came around, I was not as enthusiastic for my visit to Atlanta. My friend knew that I had received the game, and we had been exchanging phone calls about how great it would be to play it together. Now I would have to admit, or worse, demonstrate, that I …well, sucked. I just wasn’t any good at it.
Sometimes we feel like this in our Christian walk. Once we begin to walk in the Grace of our Lord, we are excited. This is gonna be awesome! But then, it isn’t. We fall to old behavior patterns, have outbursts of anger, jealous fits toward strangers (or friends), say bad words in traffic, don’t forgive family, and harbor bad feelings for others (hello politics). It doesn’t mean that we aren’t trying, wanting to get it right… but it is Just. So. Hard. Thank God for our God! He already knows us, inside and out, and Jesus addressed this exact issue in Matthew.
Matt. 11:28-30 (MSG)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
What a promise! My favorite is the wording, “unforcedrhythms of grace”. I don’t know about you, but so often I find the grace that I extend others to be very forced. Definitely not something that sounds and feels rhythmic. Hmm. BUT, the promise he gives is this: the more we walk with him, work with him, and watch how he does it, the more unforced and rhythmic it becomes. This is not to be confused with easy… after all the metaphor still includes us “yoked” and “working”, but alongsideChrist, and certainly not towing the line of our Faith.
Once I got to my friend’s house, we decided that the first night we would stay up all hours playing SNES. But instead of being disappointed that I wasn’t up to snuff, she just offered to let me watch what she was doing. She talked about what choices she made and why, and let me see the controller as she played. By the end of that week, I had beat her brother at the Flower Cup (which is like silver). It became what I imagined it to be; I was playing more fluid and purposefully. I did not lose control at every turn. And then, the joy of it all returned.
what is "spark"?
Its a small thing - like the flash on a spark plug that hopefully ignites something bigger to propel you forward.