So why am I participating in a men’s bowling league with a bunch of guys from church?
I ask myself this question just about every week as I trade my Chuck Taylor’s for shoes who knows how many feet have slipped into. I place my personal ball ( a Christmas gift from parents who were in leagues once upon a time) on the return. I throw a few practice balls and try to find my mark. I take it all in and wonder, “What am I doing here?”
Though I generally avoid the gutter, I just don’t seem to do all the things you need to do to throw strikes consistently.
So, I’ve developed a little mantra. My teammates help me chant it. When things go right I shout it. When things go wrong I grumble it.
“Hit the head pin.”
The head pin. You know, the #1 pin. The pin right in the middle, out front. Hit it just right and a strike follows. Miss it completely and you’ll join me as we weep and gnash our teeth.
So, what am I doing? Participating in a sport for which I exhibit little to no skill. Hanging out with guys, many of whom I don’t know. On the weeknight before a day that begins earlier than I’d like with a meeting of other guys I’m trying to help lead and inspire. Why? Why? Why?
Because I need to be around people I don’t know. I need to have relationships that may be connected to the church, but that exist beyond the four walls. I need to participate in activities where I’m not the expert. I need to be uncomfortable and humbled and challenged. I need something like bowling to help me connect with God and with others.
I honestly didn’t think about any of this when I agreed to bowl. I thought, I’ll go out and have some fun. End of story. A chance to relax, get away from it all. But I’ve come to appreciate this bowling experience as one of the ways my life is lived missionally.
Bowling as missional living?
Indeed! What is missional living but sharing your life with others in real, authentic and sacrificial ways?
As those pins are set and reset, I am building relationships. With each humiliating frame, I take a step outside myself. Every victory an opportunity to laugh and celebrate. Every defeat a chance to offer comfort and hope.
Almost makes you want to go out and buy a bowling ball, doesn’t it?
- When was the last time (first time) you chose relationship over comfort?
- When have you decided to stretch yourself for the sake of another?
- What are you already doing, or could you easily do, to be more intentional about interacting with “strangers”?
- How can your hobbies/interests/past times be used to draw closer to others and God?
If you’re anything like me, you may not have thought much about ordinary, every day life as the channel where God can do some really cool stuff. If you’re anything like me, you’ve kept God in a box called the “church” or perhaps “missions”, but you haven’t really believed God cared much about golf, bowling, cake decorating, knitting, reading books, video games, car repair, or any of the bazillion recreational activities we engage in for fun and pleasure.
If you’re like me, you’d be wrong.
Go bowling with some friends-in-the-making and listen over the crashing pins, the music, the conversation. You’ll hear God coaching you…”Hit the head pin!”
Life is better together,