Thoughts on The Last of Us

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Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us is the antithesis of the Uncharted series. One game is built on stealth, scavenging, and nonviolent solutions; the other game on blood, ammo drops, and guns, lots of guns.

I happened to take a sick day this week. To relax, I fired up The Last of Us. Now I should note that this is a game I have tried quite a few times to get into. Somehow, someway, The Last of Us has failed to capture me, until now. The fact that it was daylight outside could have helped my bravery. Scary games and I do not get along.

The last time I played The Last of Us, I had left Joel, Tessa, and Ellie out in the rain. They were trying to make their way down a slick street, avoiding the military along the way. Years of Uncharted training told me to unload my gun on these goons, up the body count, and get along. Yet, The Last of Us teaches one that guns are bad. If you are going to shoot a gun in this game, you better prepare to deal with the consequences. You see, guns are loud. In a game all about stealth, enemies swarm towards gunfire like flies to fresh poo.

We soon came across two new enemy types: 1) Clickers: Infected that are blind yet have amazing hearing; 2) Runners: Infected that can see and rush one at will. I realized that each enemy encounter is like a puzzle. If you can distract an enemy with a glass bottle thrown into another room, you are golden. The Last of Us is all about misdirection. And bricks. Bricks are fantastic melee weapons. They also provide something to throw to stun or create a diversion. I cannot stress enough that the moment your gun clears its holster, you will be stringy flesh on toast.

Expect to die many times. Each encounter is different. Sometimes it is best to observe first, die, and then try a solution. Death isn’t the end, death is your friend.

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Further along in the game, we made it to the state capital building. The military arrived and surrounded the building. I tried at least 5-7 times to sneak around and out of the building. No good. So I then decided to move as fast as I could from one barrier to the next. Avoiding military patrols like the stealth professional I am not, I walked out of the building without a single shot fired. This game is good.

The Last of Us pushes for non-violence and yet is the most violent game I’ve played in a long time. I like how the non-infected humans are scarier than the infected. I love how the game is kicking me out of my comfort zone of running and gunning.

I ended my sick day entering the darkened corridors of a high school. My wife and son where out shopping for the evening. I was home, alone. Coming across a group of Clickers, I decided that enough was enough for the day. Could have been that my bravery left me when the sun went down or that I was just tired. But I’ll be back, brick in hand, to continue the journey. Not forgetting the quiet moments in the game, moments of utter wonder.

Beauty. Light. Darkness. Oh the world we live in, reflected in a video game.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5

In the Valley

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I am convinced that God deals with us in the valleys of life, in times where we need the most faith to move forward. Sure there are moments where we can clearly tell where God is leading us, those so-called “mountain top” moments. I would argue though that those moments of clarity are few and far between. In the darkness, we need the light. In the darkness we must rely/embrace God, trusting that He will see us through, that He has an ultimate plan.

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Started reading Mike Erre’s Astonished the other day. Below is a quote I wanted to share:

God takes us to places where we can’t figure it out or depend on our resources or intelligence. He wants us to trust Him, nor our formulas, spiritual disciplines, or knowledge of the Bible. He draws us onward, using the acute sense of limitation and sorrow we feel, to bring us to the place where we “don’t know” and “can’t see” so that we’ll reach for Him and grab hold of Him, after there is no other place to turn.

In the Valley

Lately I’ve been in one of those places where the valley only seems to be getting darker and deeper. The crazy cycle/ negative atmosphere at work is eating away at my soul. I can’t seem to find the work eject button. A job I applied for a few weeks ago, a job that seemed like a shoo-in, panned out into the ether. I am not sure where God is leading me but the crazier I feel, the more I know that I need to be leaning on Him.

Even at the end of my rope, why do I find it so hard to just give up? Why is it so hard for us to just allow God to be our strength? Pride? I’m not sure. I do know that prayer is the answer. That trust in God is the key. I have come to a place where nothing else makes sense, where God has me. I just need to surrender and listen. So hard.