Halo. Call Of Duty. Assassin’s Creed. These are the video games atop the Christmas lists of eager children this year.
By this time next year, most of those games will be tossed aside, played out and forgotten about while a new game awaits.
Perhaps, though, for one child this year a game will have as profound an impact on their lives as the video game I wanted more than any other when I was that age.
Almost 20 years ago on Christmas morning, Santa Claus brought me a brand new Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Better yet, the game system came complete with the Super Mario World game. To this day the Super Nintendo, along with Super Mario, remains one of the best gifts I have ever received. In fact, I still have both, and they still work perfectly.
The reason Super Mario stands out as one of my favorite gifts isn’t so much because of the gameplay, or the graphics or the hours I spent in front of the TV playing it. Super Mario World was a great gift because of my dad.
You see, I’ve never been very good at video games. I’ve pretty much retired from gameplay because of a nasty temper that erupts in response to the frustrating complexity of modern games. In other words, when I get mad at a game I’ve been known to break a controller or three.
Even an old school game like Super Mario was not something I could beat on my own. So when I was a kid, before I would try my hand at a game, I would ask my dad to play it first.
He wasn’t crazy about video games, but on occasion he would indulge me. As he sat on the couch easily conquering level after level, I would stare on the floor in amazement. My father ran through the castles, collecting coins, rescuing princesses and opening up new worlds for me to explore. My dad was able to do things in the game that I could never do on my own.
To have my dad overcome the villains for me so I could explore the world of Super Mario safely – what a special gift that was. You might even say it’s the same gift we celebrate each year at Christmas.
After all, it was our Father God who came to play the game of life on Christmas Day. He saw our struggles and entered our world in order to do what we could not. Along the way he endured every temptation and struggle common to man, withstanding them all.
God navigated the dangerous levels of this world, stomping on every evil henchman in his path before conquering the ultimate villain – death. He went to the cross for us and defeated the game.
Because of his victory we have the entire world open to us to explore. We still have to play the game of life, but we can play with confidence, for in his own words he told us not fear, because he had overcome the world.
There is something special and comforting about having a Father willing to beat a game for you. As you play the game of life you will still have to face down enemies trying to steal your joy. May you hold tightly to the gift of Christmas and walk onto the battlefield knowing that someone has gone before you and He has already won.
ALEX DORIOT IS THE DIRECTOR OF STUDENT MINISTRIES AT THE HILL BAPTIST CHURCH.