Tennis Ball Lessons

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Recently, Lynn and I were having dinner with our friends Pat and Jackie Mathews in their home.  They have a big Labrador retriever, and they are very proud of him.  Pat took a tennis ball and threw it, and that dog took off after it.  The Lab brought the ball back to him.  He threw the ball again, this time to a spot that was not easily visible.  The dog went right after it, found it and brought it back.  He even threw the ball behind a barrier, and the dog went over the barrier and brought the ball back!

The more I watched the dog and the tennis ball, the more I thought about life.  Every day God gives us a new day that is like a ball He’s going to throw.  That Lab can teach us a lot about life in at least four areas:

FOCUS.  The dog always stays focused on the ball.  He is single-sighted.  He doesn’t look to the left or the right.  He keeps his eye on the ball.  Remember – if you chase two rabbits, you catch none!

I remember watching the Olympic runners.  As soon as the gun sounds, they look to the finish line and run straight towards it.  I didn’t see any of them looking up at the stands or checking out other things that were going on in the stadium.  They were focused on going to the finish line.  Is my life focused every day?

DISTRACTIONS.  When that dog goes after the ball, he doesn’t have any distractions.  I heard a cell phone ring, but it didn’t faze the dog.  A breaking news item came on television, but he wasn’t distracted.  No distractions!  Is my life distraction-free every day?

My dad taught me a great lesson when I started college.  He reminded me that I would be playing basketball, which would take a lot of time, but it shouldn’t interfere with my studies.  He said it’s not how much you study, but how you study.  He suggested I not study in the dorm room because there were too many distractions.  People walk in and want to talk, you hear noises in the hall way, you can hear radios playing.  My dad suggested I go to the library and study without distractions.  I learned a great lesson.  I could spend one hour focused and studying in the library without distractions and get far more done than I could have in four or five hours if I had studied in the dorm room.  That was good advice!  I have employed that concept throughout my ministry.

FINISH.  The dog always finishes the task.  The ball may go behind some object, but he doesn’t stop till he finds the ball.  He never once returns without the ball.  He completes the task.

Every day we have responsibilities.  We have tasks to be completed.  Failing to finish a task today usually means the task will never be completed.  Procrastination is a dangerous thing.  If you don’t finish it now, when will you have time to come back and finish it later? (Tweet this)

Some athletic teams don’t complete the task.  This year a lot of football teams have played great and have been ahead at the end of 59 minutes and 30 seconds.  But in those last 30 seconds they lost the game.  They didn’t finish.  Am I finishing strong every day?

PURPOSE.  Productive living is always the result of knowing and fulfilling our purpose.  God has a purpose for every person.  If we spend our time doing things outside that purpose, we are wasting our time.

A happy life is never a merry-go-round of meaningless activity, but it is a focus on God’s purpose for our lives.  The inner satisfaction of knowing we are fulfilling our purpose for that day in our work, and the commitment to fulfilling God’s will for our lives, are the most valuable paychecks we ever receive.  Read Matthew 10:39.  Is my life focused on fulfilling God’s purpose for me every day?

It’s tennis ball time!

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