Have you ever been in a paintball war? “Paintball is a competitive team shooting sport in which players eliminate opponents from play by hitting them with round, breakable dye-filled oil and gelatin pellets (“paintballs”), usually shot from a compressed air (nitrogen) or carbon dioxide-powered low-energy air weapon called paintball marker.” (according to Google) You should wear layers of clothing which consists of long sleeves and long pants, headgear with a face shield, boots, and take ibuprofen for muscle pain. It’s all about being prepared to feel the splat of the paintball. The only thing you can’t be prepared for is where the paintball will come from or where it may hit you. Whether you are an amateur or a professional, the game will come to an end. It’s then that you can laugh at the paint you and others are wearing as you do a recap of the game together. Our daily life is similar in some ways but very different in others from a paintball war. Let’s look at life using a paintball lens.
We compete with people in life.
Unfortunately, this is very true of us. We have a tendency to want to be better than someone else. That’s our sinful selfish nature rearing its ugly head. Is it the “Miss America” syndrome which tells us we are special or just the love of ourselves? There is such a desire to compare ourselves to others. It makes us feel better about ourselves because there’s always someone sinning more or worse off than we are. Jesus warns us about this when he told the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Pharisee prays, “…God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” Luke 18:11-12 Even as we read this, we may have the temptation to say in our hearts, “I’m not that bad. I don’t pray that way about myself.” Be careful because we don’t really have to say it to be guilty of the competition with others. Just as those who fight in a paintball war must prepare themselves for the battle, we must be ready to fight our competitive spirit. Jesus reminds us how, “…the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14b We need to put on humility and see ourselves as God sees us, as needy sheep.
We shoot people in life.
You may be shaking your head thinking, “I’ve never shot anyone”. The truth is we all have with our words, actions, or thoughts. We spit paintballs at others splattering them with our garbage. We don’t think before we speak or act, not considering how it will affect the one with which we are engaging. Sometimes we strategize how we can best get to someone, other times we just react without any forethought. “…those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” Titus 3:8b We are to be careful to devote ourselves to good works for the benefit of others. This is a reminder to not shoot people but to do good to people. On the paintball field of life, we should be helping them, not contributing to their pain.
We get shot in life.
We will all be on the receiving end of the splat of another hard circumstance in life. Those who are going to fight a paintball war prepare by layering their clothing and wearing gear for protection. This is not always possible in life. The hard circumstances come at us when we least expect them. How do we prepare for that? Perhaps you can relate to being in a hard circumstance, trying to manage it when another one hits you in the back of the head. You never even saw it coming. This circumstance adds to the other one so, now, the pain starts to increase but ibuprofen will not relieve it. Just about that time another circumstance hits you from another angle, then another, and another. This can be overwhelming to the point of making us feel defeated. Extra clothes or head gear will not help us. There is only one help, God. The problem is that it’s hard to see God in the midst of so many paintball splats. We become blinded to how He is working or if He is working at all. What do we do?
When it’s hard to see beyond our feelings of defeat, we must remember God. We remember the difficult times from our past and how he rescued us. We reflect on His Word and the help it can give us. “I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!” Psalm 119:107 This is a great reminder of how God’s Word will help us when we are afflicted. These circumstances that continue to splat us may be the handiwork of evil men. We have been given Psalm 37 to meditate on and put into practice. From this Psalm we need to remember,
“Fret not yourself because of evil doers; be not envious of wrongdoers!” vs. 1
“Trust in the Lord and do good;” vs. 3
“Delight yourself in the Lord” vs.4
“Commit your way to the Lord” vs. 5
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;” vs. 7
We need to remember these words and put them into practice as we are hit by hard circumstances. We may not be able to control the incoming splat, or even prepare for it, but we can remember how to respond after the splat.
God holds us.
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24
In eternity we will enjoy times of remembering the great deeds of God together as we recap how the gospel saved us and sustained us.