Final Fantasy VI was the first game with which I fell in love. I didn’t own a Super Nintendo, but my friend did. So I spent almost every day after school hanging out at his house, trying to save the world from the evil of Kefka. I had never played a game before with such an engaging story and characters that I actually cared about. To this day, I still count FFVI as one of my favorite games of all time.
I haven’t played a lot of Final Fantasy games recently, but I know they’ve gone away from turn-based combat. Battles in FFVI took place with the team of heroes lined up against the monsters or villains; it was a 16-bit version of the Revolutionary War, just standing in lines and shooting at each other. Most of these battles weren’t planned, though, and were the result of random encounters. Battles would randomly start as the player explored dungeons and different areas of the map.
After a while these random encounters would get bothersome, especially if the battle was against low-leveled enemies that didn’t give much experience. I was just trying to find another esper or finish a mission, but some stupid mutated rats kept interrupting me.
These past two weeks have felt a lot like all those random encounters in Final Fantasy VI. My life was cruising along with a regular rhythm, one that I had spent the past year perfecting. I would wake up in the morning, spend time with Jesus, go for a run, eat breakfast and then kiss my wife and daughter goodbye before heading off to work. Now that Alycia is heading off to work as well, that rhythm has completely imploded. Alycia getting a job has sent ripples of random encounters throughout my life
You thought you were going to go for a run? Help Alycia get ready for work!
You thought you were going to spend time with Jesus? Feed Clara and get her dressed!
You thought you were going to write a book? Go to bed early so you can wake up with a crying baby!
In no way am I blaming Alycia nor do I hold any resentment towards her or Clara. I am so proud of Alycia and I am grateful for all the sacrifices she’s making for our family. And my implosion of rhythm is a popping soap bubble compared to the warp core implosion that Alycia is experiencing. I’ve got it easy compared to everything Alycia is going through as a new teacher.
Regardless of the size of our implosions, though, we have to be prepared for random encounters. We’re going to have random encounters with distractions, joys, tragedies, hardships and successes. Whether positive or negative, these random encounters could attempt to pull us out of our regular rhythms and focus on God. We have to learn how to weather these random encounters and use them to our benefit.
Even the lowliest of enemies in Final Fantasy VI gave my characters some amount of experience points; it wasn’t always a lot, but it did bring them closer to the next level. That’s how we need to view the random encounters in our lives: as steps toward reaching full maturity in Christ. We need to embrace them, though, to really experience their benefit.
Unfortunately I haven’t really been embracing my random encounters as much as I have been rolling over in front of them and playing possum. At this point I feel like I’m just trying to hang on, but that’s because I haven’t been sitting at the feet of my foundation. Jesus tells all who are weary to find their rest in him; he is the one who helps us find peace in the midst of all the random encounters. But, even though it’s totally cliché, once life got super hectic, the first thing to go was my time with Jesus.
So please don’t follow my example when the random encounters come; be better than me. It’s usually my hope that writing about my shortcomings will help me be more faithful in addressing them. I certainly hope that’s true this time, because I don’t think these random encounters are going to stop and I need Jesus.