This is a feature Guest Post by a great writer and personal friend, Ryan Evans. If you are interested in writing a Guest Post for Manturity.com, please contact us.
Recently, Bryan and I have begun to learn and play tennis on a weekly basis. We both needed a few guy hours per week away from our lovely wives and kids and to expend some natural energy and frustration from our daily grinds.
Since I learn from thinking about the concepts and visually watching other good players, I began to contemplate the best way to hit ground strokes. During dinner, I was explaining to my wife the varying degrees of difficulty for either a backspin shot or a topspin shot depending on what the other person directed toward you.
Sometimes teaching others is the best way to teach yourself; I believe that’s one reason why the universal truth of “Freely you have received, freely give.” was taught by Jesus. In our explanations of what we think we know; we realize how much we do not know and allow the Spirit of Truth to reveal his truths to us since we are receptive and contemplative of the real answer.
Being an engineer, I devised variables for every possible shot shape and velocity so I could remember in the future the best way to position myself and prepare my body to make the tennis ball behave as I wanted. I had arrived at: ground frictional coefficient, resultant compression for the interior of the balls, resultant smoothness coefficient for the exterior of the balls, percent of mishit by the opponent, temperature, and wind.
However, in the midst of formulating strategies for something as inane as a tennis match, a powerful spiritual truth entered my soul.
Bear with me for second while I metaphorically view our lives as the tennis court and ourselves as the tennis ball.
Depending on where you were born and what locality on the earth you reside is similar to the frictional coefficient of the court. It’s possible to consider a place like America to be a nice, smooth and fresh hard court whereas a place like the Middle East or China would be considered a heavily used clay court – full of bumps and pits. In America, you generally know what to expect from your fellows, the government, and the Church. We are able to choose our leaders and move to a different church if we so desire. According to the hard court – you can somewhat easily predict how you will bounce around. In the Middle East or China, you generally are not able to affect the conditions of your existence. There is no representation in government and the rules are set by very strict guidelines – either the Koran or the Communist Party. According to the used clay court – the decisions by others and the pitfalls of daily existence make for a very hard and stressful life.
The only real control we have over our lives comes from the analogy of the compression and smoothness of the tennis ball. In our daily lives, whether work, home, or both, we sometimes feel like we are hit back and forth. Over time, we can arrive at a depressed feeling of deflation. In tennis, if you play with a deflated ball, you simply have to hit it harder to make it travel to the same destination as a new ball. Therefore, through the monotony and struggles of daily living, stress, pain, anxiety, depression and anger seem to continually build and increase. The more those negative attitudes build, the harder the hits seem to be. We are simply not in the right frame of mind to withstand any attack from the enemy or the world.
In addition to losing your compression, your exterior will become more and more worn as the match goes on. Sometimes you feel like your world is thrown upside down or sometimes that you’re barreling toward your circumstances like backspin or topspin. Either way, every time you interact with the world, you become a little more unravelled – having steadily been losing your ability to bounce back and now you feel like your outer man is breaking down and failing. As soon as the first felt tear starts on a tennis ball, it seems to unwind much more easily with each successive impact. Also, when our bodies begin to fall apart and age and our souls are weak from constant bombardment of evil and sin, we can find ourselves in a very hopeless situation.
You also will begin to feel the effects of how purely you’re being hit. Have you ever questioned just how the enemy knows how to attack you and sometimes an evil attack or a human insult just feels like it hit you squarely? Imagine the old deflated tennis ball, having to continually be hit harder and then being hit squarely in the middle of the racquet – the result is when the tennis ball is as its most unnatural shape while continually diminishing in resemblance to the original model.
The temperature and the wind of the match can affect the tennis ball as well. If the temperature is low, each and every hit will feel harder and stay with you longer. If the wind is directly in your face, you may feel like you should be flying to your target but you just can’t seem to ever get there. Consequently, when the next circumstance of life happens, you’re twice as quickly sent in a direction that you are made to go. You may feel like you’re continually striving to get to a particular destination where you feel you’d belong but always seem to end up being forced in a different direction.
So what is all this talk about a tennis ball on a Christian Men’s website for Spiritual Maturity?
We have to protect ourselves and keep ourselves new. We need to be continually refined in the image of the original model. If the original model was without spot or blemish, we should strive to be indistinguishable. We need to continually stay full of the air which gives us our compression. We need to continually shave off the slivers of felt which cause us to become unravelled. If we remove our felt tears and maintain our compression, the impacts of the players and court won’t render us unusable as quickly. We also need to be thankful for which court we have been chosen to play on.
Metaphorically speaking, we need to stay close to Jesus. We need to be continually molded in his image since he is our Elder Brother, Teacher and Lord. We need to maintain our character so we are a mirror of the original model, Jesus. We need to stay full of the Holy Spirit so we can withstand the repeated attacks of the evil one and the world. We need to be continually filled of the Holy Spirit to maintain our ability to withstand the repeated attacks of evil and circumstances of the world without becoming deflated and depressed. We need to continually repent of the areas which cause us to become unravelled and continually ask the Spirit to search us for roots of bitterness, unforgiveness, and hate. We need to continually remove the areas of life which cause us to sin before that trail of sin unravels and becomes so exposed that it cannot be hidden. We need to stay on fire for God so each thing that negatively impacts us will not hurt as long or as deep. We need to remember Jesus taught that a man who is full of the Spirit doesn’t know where he’s going or where he came from – he’s moving to where he hears Jesus’ voice. We need to be thankful for being born or living in America but be prepared to understand the customs for wherever God might send us.
Finally, we need to take a lesson from the tennis ball and do exactly that for which we were created. Take a step back and enjoy being played. Be of good cheer – before you realize it, your game will be over and some brand new tennis balls will be played with for your use is only a few games. Be strong and leave your mark on this world.
Do you have a testimony about a time when you were so compressed and so unraveled that the only thing you could do was fix your eyes upon the original model and renew your desire to be made fresh and new?