Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Keep Your Eye on the Eight

Keep Your Eye on the Eight

By Brenda Black

A big, green monster lived in our basement for years. It beckoned teens to come near its hard, yet hollow sides and gulped down giant gum balls they'd feed it on Friday nights. We tamed the beast with clever shots and soothed it with giddy laughter. Years of unintentional jabs left scars on its hide. A few cola spills stained its velvety fur. Still the beast endured and celebrated with each warrior who chanted over its head, “Eight ball – corner pocket!”

The calls of confidence bounced off basement walls and affirmed the popularity of the game of Eight-Ball where the ultimate object of play was to legally drop the eight ball into a specified pocket. The game has relatively straight-forward rules - designate which pocket you plan to sink the eight ball and then successfully hit that ball into that pocket. Only, don't drop it until you've cleared the table of all the other stripes or solids.

Simple enough – right? Just keep your eye on the eight. That time-honored strategy has proved effective not only in billiards. I've found other places where we need to focus on the eight if we want to be victorious. Nehemiah 8 for instance.

“So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” (Neh. 8:2-3)

In any game, the rules must be understood in order for fair and fruitful play. Ezra read the rules for life and it benefitted the hearers. “Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.” (Neh. 8:12)

One who heeds instruction has a far better chance of winning. Which leads me to our next important “8's” - Proverbs 1:8. “Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching” and Proverbs 8:11 “for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.”

Eight-Ball experts listen, apply and appreciate God's wisdom. They know that even if they engage physical senses – eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to touch, tongues to taste – true understanding still comes from the Lord. “I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, 'My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?'” (Daniel 12:8)

All too quickly, a game of Eight-Ball can end in ruin if we don't seek the Lord's wisdom. Drop the ball prematurely. Sink the ball in the wrong pocket. Scratch in that final play and every good intention culminates in defeat rather than victory.

So keep your eye on the eight. John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” Don't try to get ahead of the game; follow the Lord and walk in his perfect ways.

Keep your eye on the eight. Proverbs 21:28 “A false witness will perish, and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever.” If you aim for heaven and end up landing in hell, it's because you went the wrong direction. The saddest part is you can take someone down with you when you get misdirected. Psalm 68:20 “Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.” Don't scratch by serving anyone but Christ.

Keep your eye on the eight. Ecclesiastes 7:8 “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” Win the game cleanly by persevering to the end. Follow the rules, know your target and aim carefully so you won't put anyone else out of contention for the prize. Luke 8:15 should be our motto: “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

Here's to shooting straight for heaven with a little help from all those words of wisdom hidden behind the eight.

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