Parable of the Puzzle Part Two: Use Tools Efficiently

In my last post I introduced my recent addiction to an intriguing puzzle game from the Apple app store. Puzzle Craft is a tile-matching minigame, that starts with a basic farm that is extended and enriched with resources like food, minerals and workers to enable your settlement to be gradually upgraded from camp to castle. I explained how my frequent ipad breaks have been featuring in a number of prayer conversations, as God uses my obsession with my virtual kingdom Lonbain to teach me more of the godshaped life. I thought I'd share in a series of posts a few things God and I have talked about this month (Part One dealt with "Checking In Frequently"):

2. Use Tools Efficiently
So you're responsible for your little town from both the top level, choosing what to build and where to build it, and the very bottom rung, harvesting the grain and mining the stone to keep things running; both parts of the game feed each other. additional resources become available and bring you money, experience, new tools and more options. Even though there is no real “how to play” menu, there are enough onscreen hints for you to learn how to use the tools that you earn or buy: rakes that harvest grass, picks that mine coal, and cats that devour the pesky rats. With increasing complexity you can turn grass into trees (which are more valuable when you fell them) or coal into silver. Building the Forest Lookout reduces the frequency that the pig-eating wolves appear on the farm and once you have the Gold Mine, valuable nuggets start to show up underground  Once you have built cottages and houses you can also hire workers, and the tile matching moves become more productive. You must then make strategic decisions on whether to use resources on a new building, a new worker or a power-up to extend the farming or mining day. 

Making the right decisions can pay off in a big way. God and I have noticed how this has obvious parallels with the individual disciple and the community of faith. Spiritual disciplines are tools that can enhance how much you ‘harvest’ or ‘mine’ out of a Bible passage or prayer tine for example; the Prayer of Examen or the Lectio Divina approach to scripture are ancient examples but we now have contemporary tools that can access devotional material or a Christian book on a computer or phone. Tools apply to church growth as well. Everything from a scanner to a youth worker is an investment that can pay off. I’m sure many of us have noticed how fundraising is much easier when there is a specific project such as a building scheme or a mission trip in mind, and that often, though not always, “money follows mission.” Energy is the same; youth will flock to a going concern, and most adults prefer to feel they are “part of something big.” So we need wisdom and courage to use missional tools like the ones provided by Tom Bandy in 95 Questions to Shape the Future of Your Church or described in Andy Stanley’s new book Deep and Wide. I have also recently heard that Tim Keller has some great insights but have yet to test that out.

And just like the economy of my little Puzzlecraft town, your mission strategy needs a philosophy; due to my Presbyterian roots, mine is “prudent management,” but when I hand the game over to my seven year old grandson, he uses my hard-won resources extravagantly and reaps huge rewards! Perhaps that is a metaphor for kingdom building as well.

To Chew Over: What tools do you use in growing the godshapedife? Could it be worth trying something different?

 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will Thy will,
To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine,
Till all this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.
 © Edwin Hatch