Dear guest and friend,
My name is Anthony Locke and I want to welcome you to my blog! I enjoy a good book, semi-competitive basketball games, spending time with friends, and serving the Lord in the local church. I graduated from college a few years ago and have since moved back home and am currently located in Northern California. I work for the Department of Water Resources, which means I would do the rain dance if I believed it would work because we really need more water to relieve us from the drought!
Beyond the usual formalities, there are a couple of things that you, reader, should know about me – or rather about the One who bought me. Here is a small but significant part of my life story.
I figured, by nature of the name of this blog, that this is relevant for me to share. Some of you are probably wondering, “Who or what the heck is LordUhai? Why didn’t you use your real name, a latin phrase, or a hipster word combination when you named this blog?” Well, many of you, at least historically speaking, have arrived to this site looking for gaming-related material. If you dig far enough, you’ll find that this blog’s original purpose was to provide commentary on the life of LordUhai, who was my gaming character in an MMORPG called Maplestory named after a boss from another videogame. In fact, the first year of this blog functioned as a journal for LordUhai way back in 2007. This blog is older than my sister!
I confess, though not proudly and certainly with a measure of regret, that I spent four years fashioning an idol that could not speak, could not grant me lasting pleasure, could not relieve me from my guilt, could not promise peace, and certainly could not save my soul. It is difficult for me to explain how deeply invested I was into this game and how frequently I worshiped at its altar. There would be summer months when I would wake up at 6:30 AM to ‘grind,’ resulting in a crossbowman at the top of the rankings in a popular game (LordUhai has nearly 275,000 YouTube video views to his name back when that was actually an accomplishment). I, quite literally, dedicated most of my waking hours to thinking, writing, or playing this game and had in almost every sense of the phrase, “made it.”
God slowly saved me from this lifestyle, not marked by conspicuous or outlandish sin, but by a subtle yet swelling pride forged by hard work and inflated by the praise of gaming peers around the world. This was made possible only through the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. God used His ordinary means of grace – the preaching of His Word, mentoring from older brothers, and the slow but steady process of growing up – to show me that my pursuit was a vain one.
Some would say that I am over-spiritualizing my gaming experience, but years of hindsight have allowed me to see how God used this phase of my life for my good and for His glory. God actually used LordUhai as an illustration of truths that extend far beyond the borders of my laptop screen. I would not have many of the Christian convictions I hold today if I did not witness the rise and demise of LordUhai, most notably the brevity of life and the grand task God has given to finite men.
The Lord showed me quite clearly that I had squandered one of my most important resources during my high school days – my time. Some people wonder why I have some peculiar convictions. I haven’t watched a movie in my own apartment or house since I was a freshman in college. I haven’t watched an episode of television in my own apartment or house since my freshman year of college. I haven’t picked up a video game outside of Super Smash Brothers since my Maplestory days. These were born out of some humiliating self-reflection. I had wasted so much time in front of a screen to build nothing but vanity. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a place for Christian liberty in media consumption and use. Those who know me know that I do my best to keep my convictions to myself because they are by no means prescriptive for a life of faith. This is simply where I have settled for myself. I know what my flesh is capable of and it is not pretty.
The Gospel however, is not beautiful because of it tells you to deny – though I am learning, through the slow process of obedience, that it is worth giving up all for. The Gospel is beautiful because it tells us to pursue. Christianity is not first about behaving. Christianity is primarily driven by beholding. As one song goes, “Behold Him there the Risen Lamb! My perfect spotless Righteousness! The Great Unchangeable I am! The King of glory and of grace!” Or as one of the rugged prophets of old declared on the banks of the Jordan River, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” Worship then is a proper response to Jesus’ work on our behalf to make us righteous rather than slavish attempts to keep a list of rules to obtain a righteousness of our own.
The good news of Christianity is that we have been restored to our original purpose through the cross work of Christ and that we can in fact, glorify God with our lives. What the world counts as foolishness and a stumbling block becomes the power of God unto salvation. Those who were once condemned in their sin as enemies and rebels before the Holy One can come to Him by grace alone through alone faith in Christ alone with joy and confidence as His sons and daughters to the glory of God alone. All who believe are reconciled to each other in the church as we seek to equip, edify, and disciple one another so that His praise and presence would be visible and made known to the whole world. This is the good news of the Gospel.
Thus the Christian life is not the life of an ascetic, of mindless self-denial for some mysterious altruistic good, but a call to live as a restored image-bearer in community. Jesus Himself says, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” Jesus essentially says, “If you are going to work hard and invest in something, don’t do it for something cheap. Make an eternal-life-time investment and pursue something worth chasing – namely Me!” This is why the Apostle Paul can say in one breath, “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,” and then turn around and say, “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Yes, Paul makes a cold calculation and finds that Christ is better than everything in all circumstances, but we see that it does not lead to self-loathing misery, but instead to supernatural purpose, passion, and ambition.
This blog is in part, born out of those convictions, to spend less time in front of a screen getting caught up in secondary narratives and to pursue truth that can adorn the Gospel narrative and furnish my worship. Am I perfect in the way I spend my time? Hardly. But my goal is nevertheless to live in the spirit of Psalm 90:12 and Ephesians 5:15-16. Time is even more valuable because an entire eternity depends on it and we have little time to accomplish anything for the glory of God. Jonathan Edwards said in his sermon entitled “The Preciousness of Time and the Importance of Redeeming It,”
Time is so short, and the work which we have to do in it is so great, that we have none of it to spare. The work which we have to do to prepare for eternity, must be done in time, or it never can be done; and it is found to be a work of great difficulty and labor, and therefore that for which time is the more requisite.”
When Paul describes an athlete in one of my favorite Bible passages, I Corinthians 9:24-27, he describes an ambitious man – one who runs and trains in such a way as to win. Paul uses an Olympian as a clear example of a man working hard for an earthly prize, and pleads for believers to put forth the same kind of effort toward heaven’s prize. He writes about how men train diligently and exercise self-control so that they may obtain the prize. As pathetic as it sounds, gaming is the closest experience I have that runs parallel to being a professional sprinter – those athletes that train optimally all year round just to run down a track in under ten seconds. Yes, I played a lot of sports growing up and won the occasional award, but my work ethic to prepare for those pursuits paled in comparison to my disturbingly obsessive desire to be the best marksman in Maplestory.
Friends and guests, I have a sense of what a perishable wreath looks like. I have been very close to the top and have found it empty. Yes, it was a molehill of a mountain top, but aren’t all endeavors small when devoid of Christ and full of self? I know there is a kind of work that bears fruit that will not last. LordUhai quickly faded into obscurity once I stopped putting in the work and moved onto college. This is not only true of something as trifle as video games but I realized that all things under the sun – whether vocation, relationships, pleasures, money, you name it – will prove to be a fleeting and soul-damning investment apart from the gift of salvation offered freely in Christ.
Non-Christian, may I ask you something? What are you investing your time, money, and energy in? Can it bring you true joy and enduring peace? Can it bring you rest or is it a cruel master, always demanding and taking more from you? Please consider for a moment what I have told you about Jesus Christ, the author, sustainer, and perfector of life and faith.
Christian, let me as you this. Are you settling for second best? Why would you settle for narratives found in video games, television shows, and movies that are mere shadows that point to the true Narrative, where you can make a difference for eternity in this world and the one to come? God said He will make His manifold wisdom known through the local church, which holds out the promise of life and true growth in the Gospel for a dying world. Let’s commit ourselves to the task that will echo in eternity.
Some of you have traded the ultimate pleasure of knowing God and settled for things that moth and rust will destroy and thieves can break in and steal. Consider this quote from C.S. Lewis’s essay “The Weight of Glory” which has been brought to life on Youtube.
Are you too easily pleased?
There is however, an endeavor that will result in an imperishable crown, a crown of life, glory, and righteousness. You can in fact, live your best life now, for it is your only one – though the cross we wear precedes the crown we bear. There is a present joy found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that leads to an abundant life, even when the world around you gives way. There is a future joy found in the triumph of perseverance and faithfulness when we hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master,” from the Lord Himself. It starts with denying yourself and embracing the wonderful cross which bids us come and die that we might find eternal life in Christ.
Now I seek to, in some measure, apply the same discipline I had in my gaming life to my Christian life, seeking to commit my heart, strength, mind, and soul to God’s will and purposes. Though woefully inadequate and unfit for the task, I am strengthened by His Spirit. May the Lamb who was slain receive the full reward of His suffering!
I’ll end this short testimony with the opening lines from one of my favorite poems by a missionary named C.T. Studd.
Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart.
Only one life, Twill soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ will last
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about what I’ve written here! I hope you enjoy your stay.