It all started at a Bible study at my school early one morning. For one week, our leader asked us to give up something that we really enjoy doing. Something that we wouldn’t want to give up. "I want you to give up what popped into your mind at first, but now you are trying to fight it and not give it up," he said. Well, video gaming was the culprit. He had us all read John 10:10, which says, "The thief has come only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." He told me to pray during the time that I would usually play Nintendo in order to find the full life that God wanted to give.
I really wanted to do it, but I was going over to a friend’s house that weekend. All I ever did at friend’s houses was play Nintendo, so I failed my mission for that week. I did start to pray a little more, and through that I started to learn more about praying in the Spirit. God revealed more about thief that is illustrated in John 10:10, and what he was trying to destroy in my life. I also received a morsel of the "life to the full" that Jesus wanted to give me if I turned to him.
Soon after that meeting, it was like a one-two punch. My pastor said, and I quote, "Folks, it is ridiculous for a Christian to watch more TV than they pray." My first honest reaction to that was that I never watched TV, so I was okay. Then it hit me: that applied to Nintendo and movies too. After much wrestling with that in prayer, I was bound in my goal to pray more than I played Nintendo.
My prayers were soon filled with a million "I’m sorrys" and planning how I might be able to pray more and play Nintendo less. It was almost as if I would “clock in” when I would pray so that I could play more Nintendo or watch another movie. Yet I always seemed to fail. I would blow it one weekend, then I would go cold-turkey, if you will, for about the next three weeks, then I would think that it would be okay to play Nintendo or something because I had built up my prayer hours to counter-attack against the "evil TV."
Soccer season was at its peak. I was kept busy, but I continued to pray. I also continued to slip up. I went to an online prayer room and posted a prayer request for my troubles. One of the prayer room chaplains who prayed for me told me that she was very willing to help and that I should email her. So I did. She gave me excellent advice, and supported me so much in her prayers and in her words. A lot of her advice was very key in my progress. Overall, my friends have been very supportive in my decisions. You can’t get very far in your spiritual journey without a group of believers constantly praying for you.
By this time it was summer. I had much more free time on my hands. I was doing very well at not playing Nintendo by myself any more. The only time that I would splurge would be with my brother or with my friends. I spent lots of my time in prayer and reading Christian books during the time when I was at home. I was still a little bit wrapped up in the thought that as long as I prayed more that I watched TV, I would be fine. I figured it out that I could play a whopping five hours a week as long as I worked hard in prayer every day. It never seemed to work though; I continued to stumble. That system of rewards for doing good spiritual things will never work, because realistically, we don’t deserve anything. There is no way, no matter how hard we work, that we can work off any of our sins.
Another verse that helped me along the way was Colossians 3:2: "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." When I would pray, lots of times I would be plagued by images of some of the games that I had played in the past. I knew that God wanted me concentrating on Him, and not on earthly things.
School started again, and in a way, I was glad because there would be less temptation for playing Nintendo and watching movies. God was awesome in giving my friends and I other things to enjoy doing other than Nintendo. However, one night I went to a friend’s house, and we played for about 20 hours. I went home feeling wasted after staring at a screen all night. The next day was Sunday, Oct. 14, 2001.
That night, at my youth group during the worship, I heard God’s voice. Not audibly, but I knew that God wanted me to sell my Nintendo. To get rid of it all. I come from a family of pack rats, so naturally getting rid of anything is hard for me, not to mention my favorite pastime. That night I had my N64 packed up and ready to ship out to the person who bought it on eBay.
I realized that it really wasn’t about clocking in my prayer time to see how many hours I could play Nintendo. I knew that what I needed to do was follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in me.
When you let go of your rope and hang on to God’s, things change fast. If someone had told me on Oct. 14, 2000, that in a year, I would announce that I was going to sell my Nintendo, I would have never believed it. But God can and will move you farther in this spiritual journey than you ever thought possible, if you let Him.
Recently, the senior pastor at my church announced that he is stepping down from his role as pastor to work in development of the inner city. He explained very well that it was something that God called him to do, and that he has chosen to go with God’s calling. He said something that really hit home: "You can’t stay where you are and go with God." This doesn’t mean that you constantly have to quit your job—obviously when you get where God wants you, stay there, by all means. But when God calls you somewhere, go. After all, life is short. If I were to die right now, I am glad that I will be able to stand before God and say, "Yes Lord, I accepted your call," then if I had refused and gotten a couple hundred more hours of Nintendo in before I died.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (Hebrews 12:1).
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