Upgraded Exploration
By Anthony Casperson

A couple of weeks ago a new video game in the Metroid series came out. This one, called Metroid: Dread, pays homage to the classic 2-D side scrolling action of the original few games in the series, while also maintaining or improving on mechanics learned from the progression of previous installments.

One of those classic mechanics is utilizing the map to its fullest. What I mean is that players will often find Samus (the main character) returning to the same areas several times. However, it’s not just needless repetition. Rather, as the player discovers new upgrades or devices, entrances to areas that had once been inaccessible or unnoticed can now be traveled.

For instance, when the Morph Ball upgrade unlocks, Samus is then able to roll up into a tiny sphere and enter little tube-like tunnels that might have just looked like set dressing, if you didn’t know about this upgrade. These tunnels lead to larger areas with even more secrets. And even later, after the player unlocks specialized bombs, Samus can “jump” while in ball mode. This then unlocks even more progress that had been unavailable previously. And there are even more upgrades to this single unlockable ability.

And that’s not even going into the other upgrades and devices like the Wide Beam upgrade that sends a triple beam that can allow certain blocks to be moved. Or the Varia Suit upgrade which enables Samus to breathe easy in extreme weather situations, including spending a few seconds in lava. Or the Speed Boost upgrade that launches Samus at incredible speeds after a short run.

Beyond even the idea of returning to locations so that the player can explore using these upgrades, there’s one other secret around the map areas. Hidden areas merely need to be hit with a single beam blast to knock out the wall. Poking and prodding around the various locations can be just as useful in fully exploring the same map.

While I was thinking about this aspect of the game (and games that use this mechanic as well), the idea came to me that passages in the bible have a similar ability to reveal new things even while looking at areas that have been previously explored.

The same bible passage can apply to our lives at one time. But then, after we’ve grown and matured a little more in our relationship with God, that same passage helps us explore even deeper into our following of Jesus. Something that we didn’t see before, or weren’t ready to interact with yet.

It’s not that the words changed, or that there’s some sort of new truth that suddenly appeared. No, this deepening of understanding had always been there ready for when we came to the point that we could interact with it in that manner. We just hadn’t come across the upgrade yet.

And truthfully, if we poke and prod a little bit at the words of the bible, beyond the “standard” interpretation of cherry-picked verses, we might just find even more to explore in our relationship with God. For instance, looking at the context of the verse (both in its placement in the verses around it and in its original audience’s lives) can help us understand that there’s something deeper to our relationship than we thought. Active investigation of the passage opens up new application.

I find this fact about the word of God to be beautiful. He’s there ready to talk directly into our lives, while using the same words we’ve seen before.

To those who don’t understand this, it looks odd for someone to peruse the same area again and again. They might state something like, “I’ve read the bible from cover to cover once before. Why would I need to read it again?” But such a thought doesn’t lean into the wondrous words of God that keep speaking again and again as we grow and mature in him.

Let’s not just come to the bible with expectations of needless repetition. Rather let’s walk those well-trodden paths with the eyes of an upgraded explorer. Let us ask, “What do I need for my situation now that’s been here the whole time, but I couldn’t see before?”