At the local bowling alley down the street, you are supposed to roll a heavy ball down the lane and knock down all the pins. If you knock all the pins down with one try, they call it a strike and you get a high perfect score which is recorded as an “X” on your scorecard.
My wife and I don’t bowl very often at all maybe because my wife is a better bowler than me or maybe it is the funny looking shoes that they rent to everybody that comes in, unless of course you own your own special funny looking shoes. But in the past when we have bowled, occasionally I will roll a strike but usually I am excited to just see the ball connect with a couple of pins and to hear that sound of success and see pins go flying away.
In order to help control the ball, they drilled finger holes in the ball. And some of the bowlers put a special spin on the ball and even as the ball approaches the pins it may be way of course and then all of a sudden correct its course and hit the sweet spot on the frame of pins. But as for me, I usually send a couple of these heavy bowling balls into the gutter and once or twice I accidentally hurl the heavy rock onto the lane next to ours which helps me with my humility as I beg their forgiveness for my poor performance and lack of practice.
For beginners the bowling alley can install bumper pads on each side of the lane preventing the ball from diving into the gutter and almost assuring that your ball is going to knock down some pins! It is the bowling alleys way of helping young and poor bowlers to have a better chance at a perfect score or at least improving their game. After all, a great bowler practices a lot! What does all that have to do with our walk with Christ?
On our lane to salvation, we all struggle staying on course and knocking down all the pins! We sometimes do a half-way job leaving pins standing by allowing self-love to blur our vision on the lane to salvation, controlling the heavy ball ourselves without His help. His mercy is similar to the bumper pads laying in the gutter at the bowling alley. His mercy is both the gift of grace and the forgiveness of sins which help us stay on course. Our repentance lifts us out of the gutter and His grace helps us stay on the correct lane sending us down the alley that leads us to the bosom of Abraham or the sweet spot on this frame we know as life. Just as at the bowling alley a perfect score for us is also illustrated with an “X”, coming from the Greek letter Chi abbreviating the all holy name, Christós (Χριστός) or Christ.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. But for this cause I was shown mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to those who are about to believe on Him to life everlasting.” [1 Tim. 1:15-16] Practice makes perfect so don’t be ashamed of failing or letting people see your funny looking shoes that are carrying you on the correct path to salvation and to hear that sound of triumphant success, Welcome Home!
Fr. Gabriel Weller 2-3-2019