Imagine this. You and three friends find yourselves locked inside a room with no exit in sight. You spot a tattered notebook on a narrow wooden table. Scribbled in pen on one of its yellowed pages is what appears to be a secret code. Although you think that something critical is being conveyed, you can’t figure out how to decipher the contents of the message. There is an antique chest in the corner of the room and upon opening its creaky lid, you notice a series of four unusually shaped keys laying on a piece of velvet cloth.
What do the keys unlock? How will you make sense of the cryptic message? You must find the answers to these questions before it’s too late. You’ll need to be creative, clever, collaborative and quick, because time is running out! You only have 60 minutes to correctly solve all of the room’s riddles and puzzles or else your team will taste bitter defeat!
Does this scenario evoke in you excitement or anxiety? In my experience, this new craze of team building physical adventure games, known as ‘escape rooms’ is a thrilling, adrenaline pumping race against the clock. The most entertaining aspect of the game for me is the element of surprise. You never know what you’ll find in the next drawer or how the pieces of the puzzle will eventually come together.
If it weren’t already tricky enough, game makers will often include several carefully crafted decoys in order to distract and disorient game players. Their goal is to confuse you with insignificant details so that you’ll lose precious time following dead-end leads. The adventure and the challenge of these intriguing scenarios is that you can’t solve certain puzzles without first figuring out the clues that precede them. It’s the insight you gather from each stage of the game that allows you to move on to the next.
I can’t help but notice the parallels between escape rooms and my own life.
As I look back over the past six years, it is clear that God has been lovingly paving the way, one stone at a time, for me to reach the point I’m at now. He has led me through a variety of seasons, each one gently and deliberately preparing me for the one to come; seasons of loneliness, pain, growth, determination, hope, change, insecurity, blessing and healing. Some seasons evoked excitement, others anxiety, but with each step of the journey I knew that my guide was Faithful and that His goal was to restore and refine me along the way.
As confusing and frustrating as it might be at times, God, in His Sovereignty, chooses not to show us the big picture all at once. Instead, he asks us to trust Him with one step at a time, illuminating the way just enough for us to see His Hand as He guides us along the path He has prepared for us. This slow and steady progress builds our character by allowing us to develop patience, trust, discernment, humility, faith and dependency upon the Lord.
Of course, the process is rarely simple. Real life contains some carefully constructed decoys of its own. Even with the best intentions, it can be easy to get distracted by the trivial, inconsequential lures of this world and begin following the dead-end trails that leave us defeated and dismayed.
Thankfully, even when we prioritize the wrong things and lose sight of what’s most important, God is Gracious and will always be waiting with open arms, ready to lovingly guide us back into His Perfect Will. Although we don’t know how all the pieces of our lives are going to eventually come together, we do know the One who is building the puzzle. And He builds with magnificent purpose, immense power and exact precision. One piece at a time.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6