Dark Souls, a punishingly difficult game where you stab lots of nasty things, got me thinking about Christian fellowship.
After spending the game’s introductory hours fighting tooth and nail to make the barest scratches of progress, I got stuck. Armed with a big sword and the faintest glimmer of confidence, I traversed the white light to face off against the game’s first boss. Mr. Taurus Demon easily dashed my hopes of progressing. More accurately, it pummeled them into the stone with a massive spiky club. This humbling experience made me question whether or not I had learned anything at all in my time with the game. I repeatedly tried everything I knew and was met with failure each and every time. No matter what I could do, it wasn’t enough. Swallowing my pride, I went to some friends and asked for help. They gently reminded me of the game’s tutorial, which provided explicit instructions about how to perform a plunge attack. Wouldn’t you know, the game provided a super-convenient ledge near the Taurus Demon from which to perform the exact same type of plunge attack. Armed with this new battle strategy, I successfully vanquished my foe in my next attempt. Huh. By forgetting the basics outlined in the tutorial, I welcomed a load of frustration into my gaming experience.
There’s a life lesson in here somewhere. How many times in my own life have I set out with unwavering determination to accomplish a thing, armed only with my own knowledge and experience? More frequently than not those experiences serve to remind me that I don’t know as much as I thought I did. It’s certainly not that I think I know it all; I just think I know enough. In spite of the fact that I acquire more life experience with each passing breath, my brain fails to realize that asking for help is a good thing. How much time have I wasted and how much grief have I brought upon myself simply because I didn’t think anyone could help me?
Don’t get me wrong: It’s certainly not a bad thing to figure things out for yourself. However, I think the argument can be made that we’re not supposed to learn everything on our own. God made a helpmate for Adam when he was alone in the Garden of Eden. Aaron was the voice of Moses as he led the nation of Israel through the wilderness. Later on, God gave Moses seventy helpers to conduct the affairs of the nation. Jesus took on twelve men, not to help Him, but so He could help them. At Pentecost, God gave His followers the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Considering the immeasurable power of our great Helper, we need not do anything alone.
While I doubt God will send His Spirit to help me defeat the next boss in Dark Souls, He has placed me in the company of believers who share my interests. After they help me by pointing out an obvious gameplay detail I missed, I won’t be surprised if they help me see how God is working in my life as well.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.