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Decoy Levels

Have you ever been playing a game, getting all excited that you’re about to win when all of a sudden you realize that you misunderstood what it took to win the game? It’s not a very good feeling, is it? I recently realized that one of the Freefall games I play on my phone has quite a few what I call “decoy levels.” Basically, you’ll have the same objective (e.g., light all the fires) for ten levels in a row and then on the eleventh row, there will be a bunch of fires, but the objective is to get rid of a hundred blues, or something of that nature. Maybe it’s because I don’t play often enough, but I get into a rut where my brain just looks at the level, sees the unlit fires and goes, “oh, right, need to light the fires.”

I’ve been thinking about how life is like that. As Tolkien put it, we can get distracted with “dishes and doilies.” For instance, I find myself focused on how much physical pain I’m in sometimes, just so I don’t have to think about my stress level. Or I obsess over something that doesn’t matter–e.g., how clean the house is–because I don’t want to deal with the fact that I’m not succeeding in an area that does matter. I firmly believe that’s exactly why some people become workaholics. They want success and can find success in work and it becomes addicting.

Anyway, I’m in the middle of reading a book about figuring out what really matters based on what’s important to you/who God made you to be. Someone who isn’t made to be a writer isn’t going to put writing high on their to-do list. It’s been really good! I’ve found myself thinking that knowing those things is the way to combat getting distracted by dishes and doilies.

As my daughter said when I was explaining to her why I have a Freefall example written in my Bible study journal, “I just read the goal first.” You had to have been there to find the humor–she’s almost ten, very sweet, and she looked at me like I was nuts.

If we have a clear objective, it’s much easier not to get taken in by decoys. I absolutely adore that God gives us a clear objective, and that it’s written over and over throughout Scripture. For example, in John 15 Jesus talks about how it’s our job to abide in Him and let Him bear fruit through us. In Phil. 3:11-13, Paul says, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Paul’s another great example of growing in our relationship with God while letting Him bear fruit in us. It doesn’t take a lot of Bible reading to find that goal written down.

We don’t have to wonder what the goal is. I keep reminding myself to start with the first things first: work on abiding; ask God to show me where I’m not abiding and why that is (which in my life is typically because I’m believing a lie of some sort) and then work to align with His truth.

So, how are you doing? It’s halfway through 2016. Do you gut-level know the goal, and are you working towards it? Or are you distracted by decoy levels?

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