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The Rev. Dr. Tripp Martin The Rev. Dr. Tripp Martin

The Rev. Dr. Tripp Martin is the pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church in Alabama. Previously, he has served as pastor of Vineville Baptist Church in Macon, GA and as an associate pastor at Northminster Baptist Church in Jackson, MS.

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Auburn First Baptist Church, Auburn, AL

Bowling and Yelling

November 20, 2014

When I go to the bowling alley, I always consider whether I should worry about my score.  I do not bowl often, so bowling a decent score, is not a sensible goal.  In recent history, I have probably gone bowling about once a year, each time for different reasons.  It is always fun, but when I go, I am not sure my score should be my focus.  As a friend once said, "I play golf for the fellowship."  I should probably just bowl for the fellowship.

Nevertheless, while we are picking out a bowling ball, choosing how much it will weigh, someone always says, "I will use our initials to set up the game."  Each person's initials are then entered into the computer, which keeps everyone's score, and without further warning, there is the pressure of an embarrassing low score.

Each time it is my turn, I go to the ball return machine, and I pick up my bowling ball, standing there with a serious look on my face.  It is the same face we have when we stand with the refrigerator door open, looking for something to eat, but we have no idea what we are looking for in that given moment.  I stand there looking down the bowling lane, not really sure what I should do.  Then I take a couple steps and let the bowling ball go.

There is no real technique, except for what I seen better bowlers do around me, and then I stand there for a minute, watching the ball roll towards the pins.  At first, it looks alright.  It is moving in the right direction, but then all of the sudden, it starts to drift.  It moves more and more to the left, so I do what every bowler does.  I start to holler at the ball, telling it to start moving right, back towards the pins.

No matter how much I holler, it continues drifting to the left, and it only hits a few pins.  The bowling ball does not listen to me once it is let go, which reminds us of an important spiritual practice.  It is the practice of letting go, which is not the same as giving up.  We do not give up on others, lessening how much we care about them or decreasing our dedication to them.  We do not give up, but when we need to let go, we let go.

First, we give all we can to our loved ones, but then we have to step back and know that we can only do what we are able to do to help.  It is not easy, but when we let go, then we have to wait.  We have to give our loved ones respect and dignity.  We have to recognize we cannot manage each situation.  We can only do our part.  We do not give up; we continue to wait in the wings for the people we love, ready and available, but we let go.  If we continue to holler at others when it is not time for us to speak, we may do more harm than good.


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