I’m not a bowling expert by any stretch of the imagination. You’ll find me bowling only when all other options are exhausted. I wish I could spout out the style of spin I place on a throw or some record score I once held. But we all know that would be a joke. I can’t even tell you the weight of the bowling ball I use. However, there are two things I’ve learned up from my bi-annual visits to the local alley. First, keep your throw simple and straight. Second, keep your eyes on the center arrow when you throw the ball. These two tactics have helped me nail my goal every time. My goal, however, isn’t a strike. It is simply to stay out of the gutters. Now, if I was going to make a career out of bowling, I may have higher aspirations, but I just like to have fun, and losing is not fun. Of course, when I am bowling, an unusual distraction presents itself. About halfway through my game, I notice all the spins and tactics of the more proficient bowlers around me and it distracts me from my simple strategy.
This same comparison-induced struggle can happen in our relationship with Jesus. Most, if not all, believers begin their commitment to Jesus with fervor and excitement. We dive into the scriptures, lunge into weekly Bible studies, and cheerlead all-night prayer meetings. After the zeal wears a little thin, you should have found a rhythm in your relationship. You should have discovered a simple way of hearing and obeying God’s voice. However, contentment will always be challenged by the lure to be a super-saint. I’ve tried the radical spins of reading through the Bible in 24hours, or the praying and fasting until your face glows approach. That’s a joke, by the way. But the truth is that someone is always going to try to sell you a shortcut of glitter and fizz. But like the old tortoise and hare story, slow and steady wins the race. The practice and study of Christian faith isn’t an academic achievement or an Olympic sport. It’s a process by which you are changed into the image of God’s Son. The profound mark of His identity in you is humility. In light of the simplicity of following Jesus, so many will try to pull you into the gutters of working harder to maintain the faith you already possess. Vibrant communicators will attempt to drag you into the zeal of becoming a “world-changer.” But the only world you can change is your own. God working in you is the greatest and most powerful hope you can experience. Only as He changes you, can He make His love known to those around you.
Each time you take the simple step of making time to meet with Him, you’re saying His company is more important than the thirty other time-demanding items on your calendar. When you open the scriptures and read with a heart to understand, you’re saying, “I need your wisdom, Jesus.” This takes humility. As God speaks to you and you obey, you’re saying, “I’ll set aside my feelings to do what I know You want.” These steps are the essence of humility. I want to encourage you, especially in these turbulent times, to keep your focus simple and avoid the crazy spins happening around you. The goal isn’t to nail a strike every day, it is simply to stay out of the gutters.