A couple of days ago I downloaded for the small fee of .99 cents the 90’s revamp app of the Tamagotchi. Tamagotchi’s were never really my personal thing, usually my older sister was the one who collected them and I tagged on the fake Happy Meal version onto one of my ten thousand backpacks – backpacks of which consisted of 2 broke crayons, a hand-me down lipstick, and some version of dried cereal in a baggy. So this is my first true go at handling the life of a virtual pet.
It’s safe to say, it isn’t going well.
The poor, round, digital ball has already died 5 times, and the first ‘pet’ hated me so much it just deleted its own self all together. The 5-timer is two years old at the moment, as I devotedly try to keep him alive on his 6th time around. Though all in vain, because as soon as I clock into work for my shift this afternoon and I can no longer feed or play with him, he’s a goner.
Though as I sit on my phone playing an outdated pixilated version of rock paper scissors with this waste of gigabytes, knowing full well I just need to delete this app and put the thing out of its misery, I can’t bring myself to do it. I can hear my own voice in my head, even at this moment, saying “it’s not a real pet, it has no emotional connection to you, you don’t even like it – it’s a burden.”
But I just can’t do it.
This morning I got up and seeing that I had some free time and had just made sure my Tamagotchi’s mood-meter was thriving, I grabbed my yoga mat, my Bible, and a glass of lemon water and headed upstairs to do some prayer stretching.
My devotional lead me to Isaiah 43.
If you haven’t studied that chapter, I recommend that in your nearest spare moment, you do. Regardless, I’ll give you the SparkNotes version of my understanding of the reading.
It’s basically a 3-part letter from God about what a relationship should be, especially one where you are leaning on Him in a time of need.
The first part is knowing you are loved.
God says, “I have called you by name; you are mine.” You can’t have a healthy relationship with anyone if you don’t feel loved and wanted.
The second part is letting go.
Riddled through the chapter are moments of God saying, ‘don’t be afraid, you’re fine, I got you.’ And then it goes into God saying, “Forget the past, stop dwelling, cant you see I’m doing a new thing here.” To make a relationship prosper, you have to let go of all the baggage you carried with you to the airport, and settle into wearing new clothes – BETTER clothes.
The last part is about our end of the deal; your end; my end.
In verses 20 and 21 God is basically saying, why are you worrying? I made the animals who are literally defenseless and they are thriving. So why wouldn’t I take care of you but then verse 22 comes and God is like but wait…those wild animals praise me. Yet still, you, a human being chosen by me, doesn’t even talk to me. He goes in on Israel and brings a laundry list with Him about all the things Israel has not done. And to sum it all up, Israel has sacrificed absolutely nothing for God. And in verse 24 God has had it. He says, “but you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses.” God right here is the mom in the house when she gets home from work and the house is dirty and everyone is just sitting around watching TV and eating Cheetos, asking when dinner will be ready.
At first when I read this I sort of skipped over it. But then I went back and re-read it, and the second time around the humanity poured off of the paper.
God, an all power, doesn’t-need-us-at-all being, is telling us…this is a real relationship, this thing you and I have going, and it’s getting a bit abusive.
He’s tired, He feels used, and He feels ignored.
He has sacrificed so much for Israel’s people, for us, yet we haven’t given Him a thing back.
Back to my Tamagotchi.
I don’t like the thing. He demands I take care of him and he does absolutely nothing for me. So far the only joy he has given me is from being able to tell people I have a Tamagotchi. But I haven’t gotten rid of him yet, because I can’t face the death.
There is something so eternal, so dark and unknown, about deleting him off my phone. My logic tells me absolutely nothing will happen; he isn’t even real. But my emotions won’t let my logic out the gates.
Because death is something that we are trained, conditioned, and selfishly latching on to believe, is bad and should be avoided at all costs.
Good Friday was yesterday. Easter is tomorrow.
I have found myself in the labyrinth of the celebrations of life and death.
And as my mind wanders into the 3rd final lap of Isaiah 43’s race to a relationship, I can’t seem to bring myself across the finish line just yet.
What does it mean to sacrifice?
God says in verse 4, “Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for your life.”
Good Friday was yesterday, Easter is tomorrow, and God held His end up of His offering.
He did give men’s lives for us, one man’s life in particular.
My heart breaks and shame comes over me as I finish chapter 43 where God says, ‘you haven’t even called me lately; you haven’t even thought to bring me flowers. So now I’m just pretty tired.’
And the reason why we haven’t – I haven’t? Because I’m afraid of death.
I am terrified of what I have to let go in order to have the new things that God so excitedly speaks of. I don’t want to do the work, I just want to see results.
It’s like saying ‘I just want to buy the flowers and vegetables from the store, I don’t want to actually do the dirty work to create them.’ I want to ignore the process; the real pain staking, bloody knees and dirty palms, heartbreak of the farmer’s life – the truth- and just enjoy all the rewards.
Here is the truest of truths, my friends.
God won’t ever let that happen.
You may think you can, just like when we go buy flowers and produce. It looks good enough, tastes good enough. But we aren’t really experiencing the greatness of something earned, something fresh. We just have the knock off. So we can do that in life, too. Settle for the knock off.
But if we want what God has, those new things He is doing, we need to get closer to the root.
And if you asked any farmer their story, it would look more like death than of life.
Time given, whole lives worth. Prayers offered to the skies, endless. Humility shown to the land and the weather, unending. Failure, inevitable. Blood, sweat, and tears – constant.
They could not do what they do, literally populate the entire world, if they ran away from death. They face it daily. Constantly. Death lives around them, breathing, as violently as life does. They cannot separate the two.
We cannot separate the two.
For us to live, Jesus had to die. Jesus knew this, and he did not run. He could have. Couldve said no, but he didn’t. He faced death, he faced sacrifice, because he wanted us to know life.
We are so quick to share with the world our blessings. We want to plaster them on every billboard and can’t so we post them to all of our newsfeeds.
But what did we give, what death did we hand over to earn that? And why do we feel so entitled to be owed things that the rest of the universe has to walk into deaths door for?
I am guilty of this. Of living for the reward. Of making a fantasy, a myth clothed in white’s and ivories and windowsill plants.
Paul said that every morning he rose, he died to himself daily.
I don’t want my depth of living to stop at the store bought flowers anymore, sitting in a mason jar, not knowing what hands got them there.
I want to live in the muck of it, the truth of it. The blood on the wood, nails in the flesh of it. I want to know what it means to look death in the face and say welcome, I’m glad you’re here. I want to see death walking on the street and recognize it as a friend.
I don’t want to run from the grime, the work, the pressure and persistence of it all.
I don’t want to wonder why somethings must die. I know why they must die, God told me why some things have to die.
Because if they don’t, we won’t truly live.