It’s the greatest Easter Egg of all time!
OK, I know I’m biased. I’m just a guy who let a few too many quarters slip through his hands as a kid at the Island Bowl. Oh, our island’s beloved bowling alley. We used to live right down the street and I loved it. The last I heard, Island Bowl was another casualty of Hurricane Ike. Perhaps if they would have saved all the coinage I spent there they would have been able to recover. Looking back, it seems to me now there may have been an unspoken rule there: Adults bowl and drink at the bowling alley. Kids stay in the arcade room.
And that was fine with me! Either way there was no escaping the second-hand smoke or grease-filled atmosphere.
Sure, they didn’t have nearly as many video games as a full arcade, but they had the only one that really mattered: Super Punch Out. Maybe there was a bit of Little Mac, the boxer we used to fight with in the game, in all of us. Maybe it was just fun to be able to knock someone out. But that was one of the greatest games available to us. When I say “us,” it’s not that I needed anyone else to play. I was content with finding extra quarters around the house and slipping away for a few rounds.
You can guess which game was the first I ever downloaded on a NES emulator as an adult. If you can’t then you haven’t been following my stream of consciousness. Please review.
I haven’t actually played the game in a long while, but a story came out this week about someone who has. In doing so, he brought to light an Easter Egg that would have been a game changer for me! No bunnies here; Easter Eggs are secret features placed within video games or movies. It may be a nod to an acting hero, or a shout out to another movie character. Usually, it’s a fun way to engage movie watchers and gamers. Google, and enjoy.
Some Easter Eggs are pretty obvious. Most are not. In fact, this Easter Egg took more than 25 years for anyone to find.
When Little Mac squares up against some of his opponents he has to be prepared for their signature knockout move. As a player, if you’re not ready, you’ll get pulverized. Yes, you could duck and dive to avoid the punches, but where’s the glory in that? We eventually learned there is an exact moment you can take down an opponent with one punch. The newly discovered Easter Egg shows us how to be ready to do that.
If you’re interested, watch the video below. Of course, I want you to keep reading because all this Punch Out talk got me thinking about something important.
Getting in the game
So, here’s an obvious statement: We’ve had the Bible for a while now. The Bible has been translated into almost 3,000 languages. It was the first of words to roar off the press, ever. It has inspired, convicted and led people to do all kinds of things, saintly and otherwise.
Now, maybe it’s the fact that you can see a Bible anywhere. It might be that we’ve given our attention too much to other things, like video games. I even think daily devotionals are a part of the problem. Whatever the case, it’s Sunday school clear that we don’t share a Psalm 119 feel for reading the Bible. Yes, we’ll share scripture pics on Facebook; well, at least the ones that sound nice to us. You might have even downloaded the Bible app (Make sure you look for Kelsey Memorial under the Events tab). That’s all good, except for when it’s not.
Several years ago I preached something about David–preachers are always preaching something about something. The only bit I remember was that I made an almost side-note remark about David cutting off Goliath’s head. After the service an older member approached me to say that in more than 70 years of going to church, that was the first time ever hearing about that. What? You don’t read at home? More recently, I’ve gone back to teaching a youth Sunday School class. One Sunday morning we played a game of Beiber or Bible; is this a phrase from Justin Beiber or from the Bible?. Let’s just say I wouldn’t mention it if it didn’t speak more to the fact that, overwhelmingly, it seems the Bible has become like an ancient TV Guide. We know people used to use it all the time; it’s neat to look at, but that’s about it.
Quite frankly, it’s beyond time for us to get back in the game, and I want you to think of Mike Tyson as you do. Well, at least think of his video game. Well, at least think about how someone had played his game for years, along with so many other people. For so long no one noticed this incredible Easter Egg. It wasn’t until one day, after years of facing the same opponents, using the same moves, going through the same motions, that someone noticed something.
I want you to think about that because often that is exactly how it is when we read scripture.
The first biblical story that came to life for me was the Prodigal Son. I had read the parable many times. One day, though, I began to see something. Long story short, before I knew it, one of the first lessons I ever developed on my own suddenly jumped off the page. It was there; it had always been there. It just took a while for me to see it. What’s awesome about prioritizing the reading and studying of scripture is that you never know when you’re going to have those moments.
That’s why we need to keep reading even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when you feel like you’ve heard this story before, keep reading. Heck, even because you’ve heard this story before, you need to keep reading. Not being good with pronouncing names, finding a biblical city on the map or even knowing what a word means doesn’t disqualify you from being able to hear from God through scripture. So, keep reading and keep asking questions about what’s happening and why something was said. Memorize a line or two at a time to begin to let a parable saturate your thinking. If God’s word is a lamp, let it shine somewhere in your mind and heart.
Now, let’s make a few things clear. First, God is not hiding anything in scripture. It’s obvious as we read through the Bible that we were blessed with gifted writers who were in tune with the Spirit. Consequently, we have a holy text that is able to speak to us on so many levels in so many ways at so many times. You often hear of people who speak of reading something many times and being able to “get something new” each time. That’s true for the Bible, too.
No, there’s nothing hidden in scripture. At least not in the catch-me-if-you-can sense. There’s nothing hidden, but when you seek you will find. That’s something else you should be clear about. You’ll be reading through a story when all of a sudden you’ll lift your head, squint your eyes and think, “Wow!” But don’t think you won’t ever be convicted. My “wow” often turns to “Ouch!” Scripture is not always as uplifting as some TV preachers might have you think, but the Spirit will always lift us.
Notice there is a lot God wants to say to you. So, read for yourself and read with yourself–it’s less embarrassing when you’re trying to pronounce names. Read Bible passages out loud, or even follow along with an audio version. Use every chance to hear something from scripture. Think of it as collecting quarters for the arcade. The more you’re able to play, the better you get. The more you spend time reading, the easier it gets. Be one of those people who is able to say, “I get something new each time I read it.” Of course, that’s hard to do if you don’t. Captain Obvious says:
But please don’t think it’s just your book. God has a lot to say to us all. I think we forget that. It’s our book. It’s our faith.
You and I need to value reading for someone else and reading with someone else, too. It may be that God is preparing you with the words or illustration from scripture to offer a bit of spiritual guidance to someone else. God doesn’t just speak to you for you. God often speaks to you for me, or someone else. Trust me; I’m a preacher. And don’t underestimate the blessing of reading with others. Letting the word of God be heard, letting people hear the words, allowing the Spirit to adjust our holy antennas, that’s a prelude to a great Bible study and life of faith with other people.
Honestly, I have no idea how long it’s going to take you to actually get into reading scripture or to “get something out of” the Bible. It’s rarely about reading comprehension. Scripture gets at our heart condition. It may be you’re more ready than ever to hear from God. Amen. It may be you’re going to read tirelessly right now and feel like you’re right where you started. Good news? You never are! Amen again.
Just think, you could be reading along, you and everyone else. All this time you haven’t noticed the power of our sacred text. You haven’t been able to see how these stories are more than just that. It’s not until one day, after years of reading the same names, using the same Bible books, going through the same stories, that you finally notice something. I suppose that would be the greatest of Easter Eggs.