In the pocket
Rack 'Em Up
A black 8, a stripe and a solid in opposite corners, there is no space in a tight rack that gathers balls to the sound of a crack which sends them scattering.
"Let's to billiards" in Shakespeare's tragedy of Anthony and Cleopatra (1607-07). The game of Pool or variations of Pocket Billiards and Pool Billiards has been around for at least 400 years. There are many variations but for 8 ball, there are 15 round objects (7 stripes, 7 bold, 1 black) all hit with a cue stick striking one white ball which, in turn, smacks a triangular formation of balls into the various 6 pockets around a table.
Whether you are a novice or experienced Theologian, you will need some deep truths to keep you "in the pocket" of faith.
Lofty goals and aspirations, I have tried hard to live by the truths of the good news that is found in believing in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. My intentions are sincere but then I #fail miserably - a scratch, a foul and a loss of game.
" I'm just going to write because I cannot help it."
"If you're going to get in the game, you're going to loose a finger or two." As a kid, I was proud of my scars: one at the base of my achilles tendon (bicycle mishap) and another above my eye (ski pole chinantecan) both of which are now gone in my old-ish age. Discouragement is part of the game but you get back in taking your "best shot" and choosing joy in the midst.
I love this video - a bunch of guys having fun making trick shots in a game of pool. Sometimes church is so serious. Media is certainly quick to "meme" the heck out of the stereotype of a Christian. I started this website a few years ago as an expression of someone trying to grow in the faith. As a follower of Jesus, I don't have it all together; I grapple with fear and doubt and, like you, wrestle with faith, hope and love.
God doesn't use me to "part the Red Sea", He simply asked me to be faithful to write and in the process grow in my understanding of the depth and width of His love. if you are joining this website for the first time. Let me begin by reviewing where I have been this past year?
Green in the corner pocket:
January 2016 Bike: Redemption and giving. God changed my attitude through an unexpected photobomb on a train and in turn, I gave to others.
... over bumps, around the track and through a forest, sometimes letting go of the handle bars - I felt free.
February 2016 Connection: Freedom found in Christ. God chiseled away my judgements in order for me to have a new lens with which to view the world.
... there is a skylight where she explains the joy of something he cannot see.
March 2016 Language: God orchestrated my plans through a date with thousands of strangers.
... with steps meandering through life's journal, with open hands and palms up to receive the blessings of words written with a penmenship of love.
Fingers snap, snap, snap - hips a'swaying to the beat, beat, beat - toes are tap, tap, tapin'... rack'em up. When Jesus comes back, I don't believe it is a neat and orderly exit from dapper placed pews but a chic snapin' dance from players in Pool Halls and off of courts and ridin' in from all walks of life toward eternal livin'.
Stripe to the far side:
May 2016 Mountains: God drew a map that had to do with my worthiness of accepting love.
... deep breathes in, a quiet exhale: strength and endurance - pulling upward.
June 2016 Superman: God carved through rock in order for me to hear the voice of others.
... he traveled light, a backpack and a desire to be used. His faith deepened through the journey.
July 2016 Batman: God uses the compassion of people to spread the Good news of His love.
... the air is cool and the sound of steps echo in enigmatic alleys of a fog that slowly drifts in.
August 2016 Wonder Woman: God has designed men and women in His image.
... little seeds of femininity taking root in deep, dark soil.
September 2016 Relentless: God patiently pursues me; it may take years but through faith, I bend.
... hallowed and exposed, it created a type of netted cup where I settled in with with a blanket, allowing the spirit of God to wash His sound over me.
October 2016 Liberty & Freedom: God turns fear into inclusion.
... and with the current of air, I glided forward above the roof tops of houses and fences, higher and higher I drifted upward, outward until sound softly fell on pillows of white - free.
November 2016 Wander: God waits for us to choose Him.
... grasping, I deserve nothing and nothing is mine to keep but out of nothing and with nothing God welcomes me home.
December 2016 Truly great: God calls us to a place of awe and wonder for it is in a castle, where we believe.
... through muddled voices, I press in and listen carefully to a quiet sound - be my guest.
A clean bank is a shot in which the object ball being played does not touch
any other object balls (ie, no kisses, no combinations).
What if you trust? What if God hears prayers? ... and as a result you settle into the deep pocket of faith.
I have this habit of repeating my prayers to God over and over, as if He does'nt hear. The conversation becomes very one sided. As I send my petitions upward, my outward attitude becomes just slightly skewed until the inward attitude has shifted.
You don't have to venture far into the bible to find men and women doubting the plans of God and taking matters into their own hands. In fact, the bible is filled with humanity making a mess of things. In Genesis 18, in the midst of a story between a man named Abraham, some visitors and God, there is a woman named Sarah who is busy preparing bread.
She listens in on a conversation and laughs. In Genesis 18:12 (NIV-Life Application), So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?
Let's stop there.
Busy I - taking matters into her own hands
Sarah was Sarai only two chapters earlier. Genesis 16:1-2 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, "The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her." Abram agreed to what Sarai said.
Sarai had been busy taking plans into her own hands and Abram was a willing participant. The result was a failed attempt. It was a decision that had lasting affects.
Busy II - doubting God
God did not let go of Abram and Sarai. Through years of struggle, redemption took place as signified by the changing of their names to Abraham and Sarah. Now two chapters later (18), she laughs.
Then the Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, "Will I really have a child, now that I am old? Is there anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son." Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, "I did not laugh." But he said, Yes, you did laugh."
Sarah was busy. She was busy listening in behind closed doors. She was busy doubting God could create a beautiful plan despite her old age. She was busy doubting her worth. She laughed to herself as she thought.
Busy III - Fear
Sarah thought God didn't know her innermost desires. When God confronted her, the immediate response was to lie. Fear caused her to wreck havoc. Fear caused her to doubt God's ability to change circumstances. Fear caused her to lie. If we are honest, you and I are not far from the same fear and doubt.
Immediately before the conversation, she was asked to make bread. Genesis 18:6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, "Quick, " he said, "get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread."
Through a lifetime of disappointment and taking control, like the bread she was making, God was kneading and making something out of Sarah's life; it is not by accident that bread is symbolically used: 1) pointing to the coming of a mesiah in the New testament and 2) refining Sarah's character. She needed to only "rest in the pocket" and to have faith that there was purpose in her struggle.
Too often, because we don't have the insight of perspective looking backwards, we become discouraged looking forward. January is a time of looking back at 2016 and with hope, looking forward to 2017.
January - a month of reflections. I begin each new year with the feeling as though I have already failed.
The good news - for you and for me - is God is faithful. It takes time to build character and like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day, we keep trying until one day the fruit of our efforts is not found in our ability but in our trust in God's plan; it takes only a mustard seed of faith to move mountains.
So this year, rather than a long "to do" list of attempts we will #fail in our own strength, try just 3 action items with the help of the Holy Spirit:
My hope is - you will put the important things in your jar of treasures in 2017 and may you never grow weary. This is not yet the end ... rest in the pocket and have a little fun on the jeep trail.
I know there is plenty of viable options for your time with social media but if you have taken the time to read this website, my prayer is that you will somehow be blessed, encouraged or inspired for having grasped it - you bless me to continue to write. Thank you!
"Rack Em Up" and make the shots.
Thank you Jesus for the gift of life - each day an opportunity to make a difference in someones' life
or to spend a day in intimate conversation with you - i thank you for eyes to see, ears to hear,
hands to help, intellect to reflect, a body to dance, a mouth to laugh - and smile
and most importantly a heart to love...
despite my weakness and sin, you love me still.
A poem I wrote many years ago.
The stories are my own. Scripture found in the bible on-line or NIV, Information found on wikipedia. A glossary of Pool language is found http://www.billiardworld.com/glossary.html. Video clips may be accessed through YouTube. The song Rack Em Up by Jonny Lang is from the January 1997 released album, Lie To Me. Photos are purchased from Fotolia. Written materials copyright 2017.
A person who searches for depth and beauty in the simple things.