Warning: You are about to enter my memory lane.
One of my fondest childhood memories was the Christmas my family spent in the snowy mountains of Colorado.
We cheated death every time my Dad drove us up that icy, winding, narrow road to the cabin and enjoyed snowball fights (which rarely happened in Texas) and warming up with some hot chocolate after an afternoon of playing and avoiding the 20 foot drop off behind the cabin.
Great time. Great memories.
But the moment that sticks out to me the most was Christmas morning as we came downstairs and my brothers and I were able to collectively unwrap the Nintendo gaming system we had been begging for over the previous several months.
It was incredible. We took turns seeing how far each of could get on Mario and pretended to be expert marksmen with Duck Hunt. (That console was expensive enough. Extra games would come later.)
And thus began a long and deep fascination with video games. Running, jumping, shooting, dodging, defeating, rescuing. Don’t know about females, but for a young boy, this little electronic device actually fulfills many of our deep desires…without ever leaving the couch.
And this is a problem.
At a certain point (mainly when my wife said video games are stupid and I shouldn’t be spending time on them) I realized it was time to place my concentration and efforts into accomplishing something that would impact others and not just myself.
So, I avoided getting a gaming console or anything I could play on my computer or phone and tried stay focused on more worthwhile endeavors.
But here’s the thing…we now have young boys (and girls) growing up in this culture where the very desires God has given them to fulfill amazing things in their lives are actually being satisfied by these games.
And what happens when you are completely satisfied and no longer have that fire or passion to achieve? You become complacent and lose your drive for something greater.
Now, I know I am going to have some “gamers” out there wondering why I am hating on them so much, but I promise, this is more about the pastime than anything else.
I have played games and know the pull it can have on us. An addiction can easily be created to this amazing, artificial feeling and this false sense of accomplishment that is on par with pornography – which I consider to be one of the most devastating issues facing believers today.
Now, you might be thinking, “well, that’s all great, Tim, but identifying the issue is really nothing without a solution”, and you would be right.
So, here is my fully-formulated, well-thought-out plan for how to address this issue:
Are you ready for this?
Get rid of it.
Throw it out. Sell it. Burn it. Run it over with a lawn mower. I think there are some pretty good ideas on YouTube for this.
Don’t phase it out. Cold turkey.
You wouldn’t tell someone hooked on porn to start by just indulging a few times a week and start tapering off from there.
No, you starve it and fill the need with something better.
And I am not writing this as someone who does not understand the struggle.
Only a few years ago I was playing a golf game on my phone with some friends and ended up spending so much time playing I began losing large amounts of time I could have been writing, connecting with my family, reading my Bible…the list goes on.
These game developers are amazing and they make excellent products. And just because they seem innocent doesn’t mean they are.
They suck you into a world of fantasy and every level passed, enemy killed, target destroyed or treasure found sets off the release of endorphins and creates that sense of accomplishment we long for in life.
But just like any addictive product, next time it won’t feel as satisfying. So, it will take a little more, and a little more and a little more each time until you are devoting large chunks of your life to getting that same feeling.
And in the end, what do you really have? What problems have you solved? Whose life have you actually affected?
Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.
1 Corinthians 10:23