Right Up My Alley

This spring my husband and I have joined a bowling league. This is something for us to do together, meet new people and enjoy a more or less non-contact sport. I say more or less non-contact sport because I have in the past come in contact with the floor falling over the foul line. Or my fingers have come into contact between one or more bowling bowls meandering up to the holding bin or whatever you call those things that hold the balls until its your turn.

In light of these more or less non-contact situations, we decided it was best for us, as a couple, to join a league called “The Lousy Bowlers.” Not for hubby’s sake. He is a very good bowler and treats the game as it should be, a non-contact sport. Me, on the other hand, I need the safety and security of “Lousy Bowlers.”

I have only been in one other bowling league with my sister about…oh…ions ago! Back when you kept score on paper, had to be able to compute elemental math and the only little dances done were the strike wiggles performed by those skilled enough to actually knock all ten pins down on the first ball.

Things are a little different today. A computer does it all. It keeps score, it tells you who is up next and it even does the little strike wiggles for you through animated bowling pins on the screens above the alleys. In fact there are animated dances for every occassion; strikes, spares, splits…even gutter balls. I like that one. I don’t feel left out:) Most of this progress is good and beneficial, but I must say I miss the real life strike wigglers.

Other than these computer enhancements the game of bowling has not changed. You take a ball about the size of a…well…about the size of a bowling bowl. This ball can weigh anywhere from 5 pounds for wee little kids to 80 million pounds for real men. You pick up the ball and roll it down a wooden alley toward 10 pins set up in a triangle. If you hit the ten pins just right, with just the right amount of speed and force, they will indeed all fall down. Or so they tell me. I can confidently report that I have hit those blasted ten pins just right, with just the right amount of speed and force and they have in fact NOT all fallen down!

In concept it is easy enough. In reality…”The Lousy Bowlers” league.

There are, of course, a select few who have truly mastered this “mess with your mind” game of bowling. They are called professionals. I’m not even an ametuer. The difference, professionals practice all the time. They practice rolling strikes. They practice picking up every kind of spare. They practice picking up difficult and unusual spares. The roll the ball the same way, the same speed, with the same spin every single time. So, when it’s time for a match, there are no real surprises and if something is a little out of sync, they know how to fix it and get back on track.

Me? Some times I may roll 3-5 games during the week, but most of the time I take the 10 minute warm up time before the league starts, which amounts to about 8-10 rolls max. So, when the match starts I can’t even roll the ball the same way two times in a row let alone handle any difficult splits that are sure to occur.

So, the question is how much do I want to improve my bowling abilities? If I’m content with just showing up before league, bowl three games, have a lot of frustration mixed with some fun, I don’t have to change much of what I am doing. But, if I want to improve my score, reduce some of the frustration and therefore have a little more fun, then I must practice the basics on a regular basis. And, if I want to be a professional, I must practice everyday and many hours in a day. I probably should read an instructional manual and maybe even participate in some lessons or hire a coach.

I can whine all I want that I wish I could bowl like a professional, but if I’m not willing to put out the work, effort, time and some personal resources, I will see no improvement. And my whining will look quite foolish.

The same is true in living out the Christian life. I can wish all I want to have a life like a Daniel or Joshua or Paul. I can wring my hands and wonder why I am not more like Christ. But if I’m not willing to read the manual (the Bible), have daily practice (prayer and living in the fruit of the Spirit) and be willing to play in a match (evangelism and good works); Not only will I not be like Christ and other great Saints of the faith, I will look very foolish in my feeble words and lack of action.

I would like to bowl better, but it’s not important enough to me to commit more time, effort or resources. For me, it’s just a fun game and time of fellowship.

I would like to be more like my Savior, Jesus Christ and this is very important to me, so I need to commit more time, effort, and resources to that goal. This is the reality that has eternal significance and is worth all that I am and have!

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2

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