Thursday, June 26, 2014

No Plan No Life

There's frequently at least one show every season that starts out only okay but surprises me by turning out surprisingly good. This season, No Game No Life is that show, as recent episodes have ramped up the intensity, complexity, and craziness of the games to become quite the entertaining show. It even manages some great emotional moments between the siblings, though that won't be the focus of this post.

One thing that makes No Game No Life so fun to watch is because the lead characters, Sora and Shiro, orchestrate incredibly complex plans to win games. Sora, the older brother of the sibling team, has a mantra that "a game is won or lost before it starts", believing in the importance of planning and preparation, rather than trying to "wing" a game as it goes. As such, he makes sure he goes into every game knowing their opponents and having a plan for how to win. He also knows that things do not always go according to plan, which is why he relies on his younger sister, Shiro, whose overall incredible skill and raw knowledge makes her great at conjuring up new plans in a pinch.

(Original art by swd3e2)
I am not much like Sora, admittedly. I tend to do things on a whim, and while I do sometimes make plans, more likely than not I get distracted and they fall through. I also tend to procrastinate on important tasks. That is why I quite admire Sora and Shiro for their planning ways, both in the long-term and in a pinch.

But what does Sora and Shiro's planning and gaming skills potentially mean for Christians? To answer this question, I pose a Bible trivia question: who was the first person in the Bible mentioned to have the Spirit of God in them?

The answer is Joseph. As the story goes, Joseph is in prison in Egypt for something that's not his fault at all, but has managed to make his way up to prison head while there, managing the other prisoners and increasing prison productivity. He also interprets two dreams with the help of God, something that does not go unnoticed, as one day, the Pharaoh of Egypt has an incredibly disturbing dream and needs someone to tell him what it means. Joseph is summoned, and drawing upon the power of God, he interprets the dream as a prophecy of seven years of prosperity, followed by seven years of extreme famine. However, Joseph is not about to leave all of Egypt to die of starvation, so along with the prophecy comes a plan: store up food during the seven years of prosperity and you can outlast the famine once it hits. The actual plan is more in-depth, because the logistics required makes it easier said than done, but basically, Joseph's plan is so good that Pharaoh has this to say about him:

“Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” (Genesis 41:38, ESV)

After that, Joseph is appointed as second in command to Pharaoh, where he continues to use his God-given skill for orchestrating plans to make sure that Egypt gets through the famine safely.

Coming up with dream interpretations is definitely from the spirit of God, but so is coming up with plans. After all, God is very much a planner. God tells his people about the plans for their lives many times in the Bible; in fact, from the very moment the first humans sinned and broke their relationship with Him, God had a plan for repairing that broken relationship, which ultimately lead to His son's dying for us on the cross.

I believe that a big part of the reason why it is so entertaining to see characters like Sora act out incredibly complex plans is because, as part of how we are made in the image of God, we appreciate a well-laid-out plan. Of course, by the same token, a number of people, myself included, have problems with actually making plans and carrying them out. Procrastination is such an international pandemic, one might think it is actually all a ploy by Satan to keep us from achieving all that God has for us... and I can't argue against that.

As hard as it might be to hear it (especially hearing it myself!), procrastinating and just "going with the flow" just isn't how God wants us to live our lives. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with some spontaneity; someone who is able to adjust plans on the fly, like Shiro, is very helpful for when initial plans fall through due to unforeseen circumstances. And there's nothing wrong with suddenly deciding to do something harmless which is fun or productive, as long as it does not cut into more important matters. However, going through life without a plan and doing things only based on urgency just makes it all the more likely that that thing you want to have done never gets done. And it's rather stressful, too, as anyone who's had to rush to complete homework the night before it's due can attest to. Fact of the matter is, there is nothing godly about a procrastinating lifestyle.

So where does this leave me, one who struggles with procrastination frequently, and others like me? Well, like all sins, asking for forgiveness and repentance is a good place to start. Asking God for help in planning out life is good, too. After all, good planning is a spirt of God thing; it will be hard, if not impossible, to do it on our own. Beyond that, I'm sure there are plenty of resources out there to help out.

The "game" of life might not be a "the game is decided before it even begins" type of game, but one thing's for sure: in life, failing to plan is planning to fail. We might not need to have highly detailed plans for every second of the rest of our lives, but we do need a plan, even if just a small one to start out with. And in the meantime, we can continue to admire those great planners like Sora as they mastermind their way to victory.

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