Monday, September 21, 2009

"Simon Says..."

Included among the many childhood games I played with others was “Simon Says”. The object was for the person playing “Simon” to direct others to perform certain actions; for example: "Simon says, touch your nose." The rules allowed the action as long as “Simon” said to do it. But if the one directing simply said, “stick out your tongue,” and those participating did so, they were out of the game for failing to follow the game’s rules. In other words, “Simon” had not told them to do it and the penalty was elimination from further play.

The simplicity of the games I played as a child is so much different than those today’s children engage in. Although the games of my childhood are still being passed on to small children, it seems they abandon them much earlier than my generation, or even my sons’ generation. Store shelves are crammed with electronic gadgets that target and woo children from infancy, and the list of them is extensive. Instead of sending their children outside into the fresh air and fostering a healthy imagination, today’s parents subject their children to the "Simons" of the world by plugging their children into television sets and the solitary and fantasy worlds of their computers or hand-held games.

Parents are told their children need to keep up with technology in order to succeed in life and that without the knowledge and expertise provided by these things, they will be left behind. The trap herein is that children are robbed of essential elements which aid in healthy development: social interaction with other human beings, the ability to cope with difficulties and failure that come their way, and a hands-0n understanding of the world around them, just to name a few. Also, the greater danger parents foster with this practice is allowing their children to be influenced by others who may have different values than their own. Without due diligence from the parents, the “Simons” of the world can quickly trick the child. The adults they become will be established by what they are encouraged with from the earliest stage of their lives.

The simple childhood game of “Simon Says” can be used as a analogy of the direction we receive from God. He did not create man to be mindless puppets on strings; rather, He gave man free will. However, there were certain rules man must abide by and the penalty for disobeying them was severe (Genesis 3).

As Moses gathered the people at the foot of Mount Sinai to meet with God, the Lord gave the Ten Commandments. “And God spoke all these words…” (Exodus 20:1-17). They were the foundational “rules of the game,” if you don’t mind me using this metaphor. Their purpose was intended to direct the people to live a life of holiness, responsibility, and love. They were the “God Says” of how each man and woman should live, a set of standards to apply and to maintain a healthy relationship with Him. However, as was the case with the first man and woman, the people quickly forgot and allowed the enemy to slip in and whisper, “do this.” Satan, playing the role of a child who initiates a game and often changes the “rules” to suit himself, was able to trick them into almost immediate disobedience. Many soon found themselves standing outside the circle, excluded from God’s favors and blessings.

Every one of us at one time or another finds ourselves caught in the trap of Satan’s deception and mimic his actions. We often rush into life without listening for the “God Says” within the direction that is being uttered. We must stay focused on God, listening intensely to His guiding voice and Jesus’ request, “Follow Me” (Matthew 9:9), even if we remain the only one left standing.

When the game “Simon Says” concluded, there was no prize other than a sense of pride and accomplishment in not being fooled. If we teach our children this simple, yet vital, lesson - heeding God’s voice when He speaks and moving in the direction He is guiding - they will carry it on to their own children, thus avoiding the pitfalls thrown in their way that attempt to oust them from the “game”. By keeping our ears acutely tuned to the Holy Spirit’s voice, the reward for completion of our lives here will be beyond imagination if we faithfully listen for the “God Says” before we take action.