The other night, I found myself with a little bit of time that I normally don’t have. My wife had some stuff to do, and both kids were sleeping soundly, so I decided to play some video games. As a married father of two, I haven’t had time to do this in years, but I was so excited as the beginning credits of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword began.
I quickly hopped into the mode of being in on some sort of epic quest to leave the floating island of Skyloft in order to descend to the Surface to rescue Zelda and to begin establishing the Kingdom of Hyrule.
Dorky. I know.
But silly animations and annoying cinematic scenes aside, I was completely wrapped up in the story, and I was eager to make my way through the clouds and begin battling baddies with my trusty sword and less reliable wooden shield.
My wife has never really been into video games, but she caught a glimpse of my game-playing and very graciously asked me what I liked about this particular pastime.
I quickly explained to her that I primarily loved the story. It was epic. I was an English major in undergrad, largely because I love stories. I wasn’t the best English major in the world, but I always felt that if my imagination could be captured by something worth capturing it, then my heart might be changed.
Secondly, I explained, I loved that this story wasn’t something I merely observed (like a book or film), but that the story was something in which I participated. Indeed, this was the same reason I minored in Theater in undergrad. The stories I enacted had already been written, sure, but I was able to help bring them about.
As I responded, it began to dawn on me that the very things I love about playing a game like Zelda are actually some of the very things that make being a Christian so incredible. We, too, are part of a story in which we are invited to participate.
God has written an incredible story, a story in which He is the author and the main character. His story has to do with the creation and redemption of the cosmos, inviting all human beings into a living and eternal relationship with Him in His Kingdom.
It is a story with great twists and turns, a Hero that dies, appearing defeated, and Who returns from the land of the dead having undone death itself! And while we may look at our own lives and see them headed for the grave, we know that because of God’s Story, death is not the end.
What’s more, we know that God’s Kingdom is coming. A Kingdom in which there is no more death, no more mourning, no more pain nor suffering. A Kingdom in which death has no say, but only life.
We know the end of the story, but we are called to participate in that story today.
We are on an epic quest toward the Kingdom of God, the story having already been written and completed in Christ. Knowing that Christ wins, we can bravely enter the dark world. We can go boldly into the unknown suffering of the poor, the need of our neighbors, trusting that God is at work to bring forth redemption.
Knowing that we cannot ultimately be defeated, we can risk our lives (after all, Resurrection is the promise in Christ) for other people, living for others as we battle the forces of death and Hell in our own contexts.
Of course, we cannot delude ourselves into thinking that we can make the end of the story come about. Only God can bring forth the Kingdom in God’s own time. But we can incline ourselves toward the Kingdom, and we can commend one another and our whole life toward that end.
In God’s Kingdom, for example, there is no more mourning. Never.
As far as I can see, in this life, our experience of grief is something here to stay. But we can sit with people who despair. We can undo the bondage of the loneliness of mourning by offering our presence in the middle of someone’s deep sadness.
We may not be able to fix this problem for someone, but our presence in the midst of someone’s pain bears witness to our belief that a Kingdom is coming in which mourning will ultimately be powerless. By sharing in the suffering of another, our action says, “Hey, I’m not scared. Your suffering can’t defeat me, and that’s how I know it can’t defeat you. Let’s get through this. Together.”
We have been invited into an epic quest. I’ll admit that I think it would be super cool if our weapons were things like swords, mirror shields, and grappling hooks, but I suppose that the weaponry of love and service is pretty good, too. Especially for a Kingdom that is not of this world, but of the world to come.
Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, podcaster, and CrossFitter. Christian has his first MA from Azusa Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and a second MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.