A couple of months ago, Luke (my youngest son) was home from college, and he had some friends over for a little get-together. Laura and I were upstairs, and he and his friends were down in the basement, from where he texted me, “Dad, come downstairs as soon as you can.”
I didn’t want to go downstairs, so I texted him back, “Why?” Luke said, “Because I want to show you some technology that will change your life forever.” Needless to say, I went downstairs.
When I got to the basement, Luke gave me a headset to put on over my eyes and some half-gloves to slip on over my fingers. As I did so, I stepped into another world. That’s right. Virtual Reality (VR). I was standing in the middle of a dirt road in a medieval village holding a lightsaber. (I’m not making this up.) I could see my hands in front of me, my feet and legs beneath me, and shops and homes all around me.
And then the bad guys and girls appeared, and I was supposed to kill them . . . with my lightsaber.
I had never experienced VR before, and I can attest to the fact that it was, well, amazingly, virtually real. Did it change my life forever? No, but it definitely got me thinking. As I reflected on my “game-changing experience,” I began to wonder: How much of my time do I spend wishing I was in some other reality? Let’s face it. We all have those moments where we wish we were living another life, or had another job, or made more money, or didn’t have our current problems, issues or challenges. The grass looks greener, at least virtually, in someone else’s reality. But we are where we are, and we can loathe it, love it, or learn from it. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that we can learn to be content in our current circumstances, whatever they may be, through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:11-13).
If developers came up with a Virtual Reality game for pastors, I bet it would be a big hit. Put on the headset, and you are morphed into a virtual reality of a bigger church with people who never complain, never say your sermons don’t have enough meat, and where the worship wars have ended in peace. I’m sure you could come up with your own VR game to fit your life’s situation.
But here’s the hard truth. God uses our current reality to prepare us for the heavenly reality, and there’s no detour. We can’t go around it, over it, or underneath it. We have to go through it in order to grow from it and be prepared for the reality God will one day reveal.
C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains” (The Great Divorce). Let’s embrace our current reality and throw off the temptation of a virtual reality in order to prepare for the heavenly reality. That is how “we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17, ESV).
That, my friends, is a reality that will definitely change your life forever.