Shuttlecocks in God’s Tree

Many people make New Year’s Resolutions to exercise more and optimize their health.  Perhaps you will take up a new sport this year.  Personally, I grew up playing in the Namby-Pamby League of sports. 

Ping Pong:  the name just about says it all.  You hit the ball back and forth, and it makes two noises – ping! pong!  or  ho! hum!, or whatever else you want to call it.  Relatively easy, with the added bonus that you don’t even have to stretch to play this sport. 

Croquet:  You can even play this sport in a dress and high heels (ladies only, please) and break for tea in between turns.  Try to hit the ball through the wicket.  You are armed with a heavy mallet, but you may not hit your opponent with it.  You may, however, tap their ball with yours in moments of heated competition. 

But no sport can compare to the dog-eat-dog world of badminton.  Even the spelling of the sport is intimidating.  It’s not pronounced badMINton, so it should be spelled: badmitten.  But then people would see the word “mitten” and mistake this for a wimpy sport.  For nothing says “rough and tumble” like a game played with shuttlecocks.  And a racket so light that you could substitute it for a flyswatter. While other neighborhood children wore cool uniforms and came home from “real” sports tournaments displaying their impressive bruises and wounds, my siblings and I engaged in the dangerous task of throwing our rackets into the tree to dislodge a shuttlecock.  It’s a wonder we lived to tell about it.

My fondest memories of these sporting events are the times we would make a bad play and demand a do-over.   Hit a birdie into the tree?  DO-OVER!!!!  Send a ball under the neighbor’s bush?  DO-OVER!!!!  There was a freedom in knowing that no matter how egregious the error, we could always have another chance.

The need for do-overs spills over into other sports as well.  In football, you get four chances to get a first down.  Baseball allows three tries to get a hit.  Golf:  take as long as you want, and then we’ll meet for lunch in the clubhouse.

Now that I am a mom, I am understanding the need for do-overs beyond the sporting realm.  When one of our kids makes a mistake, their immediate request is usually, “Please give me another chance.”  In a sense, they are yelling, “DO-OVER!!!,” and it would be hypocritical for me not to comply.

I have asked God for a do-over too many times to mention. After I make mistakes, I cry out to Him, “Please give me another chance!”  So when my children plead with me, I hear my own cries pouring out of their hearts.  It’s safe to say that every time I have hit my shuttlecock into God’s tree, He’s lovingly shaken it out and given me another chance.  I want my children to be able to say the same of me.

God gave the ultimate do-over when He sacrificed Jesus to pay for our sins. He understands our human need to be given another chance.  He gave us day and night, and no matter how bad a day we are having, there is always a tomorrow.  The rising of the sun is a reassuring reminder of His presence, and that with each new day comes a fresh start.

Likewise, no matter what stressful or painful events have occurred during this past year, we have a new year ahead to start over again.  So when the new year arrives, just look the past right in the eyes and scream, “DO-OVER!”  Trust me, it’s good for your health.

Psalm 30:5b

Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning


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