Our church had a family fun night at a small, local bowling alley tonight. It was a blast! Our crowd took over the whole place, and PR31 and I ended up on a lane with Da Boyz and some other younger kids.
After a few rolls, we quickly realized we needed bumpers on our lane. You know, bumpers… those pieces of foam cushioning that bowling alley employees slide down the gutters so that kids basically can’t miss and will instead knock down pins with every try.
Gotta Love Bumpers
After the bumpers were in place, all the kids on our lane instantly started having more fun. The rules of the game didn’t change at all. Had they rolled a gutter ball (in those last 3 feet without bumpers), they still would have scored zero for that roll. They still had to stand the same distance from the pins. They still all had to wear the shoes and use the balls with three holes.
But now they were able to accomplish what was impossible before. Most of them couldn’t have kept the ball out of the gutters for most of their rolls. They would have been miserable because it would seem like an unattainable goal. Yet, the bumpers made it possible and gave them a sense of anticipation and joy in each roll.
Now let’s be honest… Were these kids really so good that they never would have rolled a gutter ball on their own? Of course not. Their balls zigged and zagged down that lane just like you would expect. Only they ended up scoring every time because of the bumpers.
God’s Rules & God’s Bumpers
Let’s be a little more honest… None of us are very proficient at keeping God’s rules. In fact, the Apostle Paul writes to the believers in the church at a Rome and says that none of us match up to God’s glorious standard. In other words, we roll gutter balls pretty regularly when it comes to being and doing all that God expects of those who have things square with Him.
And the rules don’t change. So you know I’m glad that God decided to put bumpers in the lane of my life and yours. Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew that He didn’t come to get rid of the rules, but to fulfill them.
Grace Enables Us
In other words, what we can’t do on our own (i.e., keep all of God’s rules in order to stay right with Him), Jesus makes possible for us. Where we would roll gutter balls with our lives, He bumps us back into line and helps us win. And so it is His grace which brings joy to life for us. And we can anticipate each effort at serving Him because we know we are going to win.
Now, I know some people who are all about the rules when it comes to God. They don’t want any bumpers. They figure they can roll a perfect game on their own. But I can tell you that the fella writing this blog is certainly glad for the bumpers Jesus puts in place so that I can be all that God intends for me to be and do all that He intends for me to do. I’d be rolling gutter balls without Him. And I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a strike with a bumper over a gutter ball without it every day!