Friday, 2 January 2009

Steve Waugh's advice

One of the best pieces of advice to any batsman is something Steve Waugh wrote in his autobiography, 'Out of my Comfort Zone': he says the best thing a batsman can do is to watch the next ball! This sounds uninspiring and matter of factly, but any batsman who has been at the crease for a long time will know that sometimes you play and miss, or you attempt to play the wrong stroke and then your mind playes games with you and the opponents will chirp you with all sorts of taunting messages to intimidate you! The best thing you can possibly do at that stage is to forget about the previous ball and about what you did wrong and concentrate on the next ball!

As we step into the New Year, we all know we are going to face new challenges, and as last year proved, we did not do everything perfectly right every time! But we have to learn to forget what is past and to concentrate on the next ball!

Sometimes it is hard for us to forget, because others remind us of our failures and mistakes all the time! Someone once brought up something which happened nine years ago and threw it in my face! I was flabberghasted! That person kept something in their heart for 9 years to use it as a weapon at the right time! Can people be so mischievous? Oh, yes! We need to check our own hearts too! What do we harbour deep within against others that we might not be aware of right now?

When Jesus taught His disicples about faith and prayer, He said they should also learn to forgive as they pray, so that the Heavenly Father can forgive them as well. We sometimes hear people say, 'I'll forgive but not forget!' If God had to do that with us, we'd have no chance at all! Luckily God is not a man and He can forgive and forget: when we confess our sins He forgive us and casts them into the deepest part of the sea of God's forgetfulness and never thinks of them again! he removes it from us as far as the East is from the West! Can't we learn to practice the same kind of forgiveness? Paul says we should become imitators of God who forgave us for Christ's sake. There's the key! We forgive for Christ's sake! We don't forgive because they deserve it; we don't forgive because we feel like it: we forgive because Jesus Christ died for them and their sins as well! It is a step of faith to forgive someone what they did against you.

Children forgive easily. And they forget. That is why Jesus said, we need to become like children again. Kids can cry and then forgive and carry on playing!

We need to forget the previous ball and concentrate on the next one! This helped Steve Waugh in his long test match career. He said that he was often out of his comfort zone as a batsman or a bowler and even as captain: but he learned to concentrate on the next ball and not to allow his mind to mess with him!

Paul encourages us in his epistles to imitate him. He had learned the secret to forget what is past and to concentrate on what lies ahead: the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross and despised the shame in order to finish what He came to do: to give His life as a ransom for many!

This would be the frist message I needed to hear at the beginning of the New Year, forget what is past and stretch yourself out to that which lies ahead! We have to face the next ball by faith, because we don't know what the bowler is going to bowl at us! We don't know what life is going to dish up, but if we can forget what is behind and concentrate of what lies ahead, we give ourselves the best chance to succeed!

The joy of a batsman is the fact that he is still batting out there in the middle, even though he played a bat shot, or even though he was dropped by one of the fielders! The joy we have is that we are still here, we are still alive, we still have a chance to do something and all that is required of us is to give it our best shot!

Bat on! Concentrate on the next ball! Focus on what lies ahead!

Jesus promised believers that the Holy Spirit would lead and guide us into all things and show us things to come! That is like knowing which shot to play when the next ball is delivered! Once a batsman plays and middles the ball, it breeds confidence to keep on batting!

Life is more important than food or clothing and even more important than failure or success! We have a wonderful opportunity to do some new things in the New Year - let's concentrate on the next ball!

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