You know those Lord of the Rings fans who are so dedicated to the fandom they read the formidable fantasy series on an annual basis? I’ve taken great inspiration from them and have created my own goals…of playing favorite video games as a yearly routine. Same amount of dedication, right?
(Yes, I’m that librarian who incites children to check out our console section – much, I’m sure, to the chagrin of their parents who came for BOOKS.)
When you revisit a story on a regular basis, new imagery and metaphor begin to pop out at you. I enjoy this from a storytelling perspective, but on occasion I also stumble across something that’s spiritually relevant.This happened most recently on a playthrough of Earthbound.
Now, Earthbound may have been released more than 20 years ago, but my love for its story goes beyond the bounds of time. (Get it? BOUNDS?? Because, you know, the title…is…uh…I’ll stop.) For those who don’t know the game, it’s your basic Spielbergian “young kids with special powers unite to save the world from ultimate destruction.” It’s a story of courage and discovery, and it celebrates an appreciation for the weird.
At one particular point of the game, our tween hero Ness is invited to enjoy some tea with an underground race of creatures known as the Tenda. The resulting, um, “trip” (and a similar one experienced during an earlier coffee break) has been a tongue-in-cheek joke between Mother/Earthbound fans for quite some time. But regardless of how you interpret the wavy colors and unorthodox music during this break for narration, it brings up an interesting viewpoint.
The monologue lauds Ness for his progress and the strength he’s gained over his journey. It then reminds him of the ultimate evil – Giygas – and his plans to obstruct Ness at every turn. But in case the mission begins to look too daunting, the narrator offers this consolation: “Remember, when you are suffering hardships, your enemy is also struggling.”
I’d read that line probably half a dozen times without any thought, just waiting for the text to scroll through so I could get back to the gameplay. But one day, as it crawled slowly up the screen, I thought, “Huh. That’s…unexpectedly encouraging.”
Now, you can only compare spiritual warfare with a secular video game to a certain extent, but still – have you noticed how hard Satan and his demons fight to ruin this world? They relentlessly attack and demoralize, dragging anyone under and discouraging even God’s children. It’s a war they hope we don’t notice, but even those of us who do can sometimes grow weary with the assault. The struggle is real. (Ephesians 6:12)
But this funky little pep talk given to a kid in a baseball cap brings a new perspective. “Your enemy is also struggling.” Satan knows he’s not winning this. He’s grabbing at whatever he can, just to see how many he can take down with him, but in the end it’s not his victory. Jesus irreversibly set the checkmate when he destroyed death and broke our bondage to sin. With that sort of tactic, we don’t even need an Apple of Enlightenment foretelling Satan’s defeat. (People unfamiliar with Earthbound – just go with it.)
We all know the fight is hard, and it often feels like there will never be a reprieve. But do take heart. When you’re struggling, remember why Satan is out to make you miserable: He wants to distract you from the bigger battle that’s already won.
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