About the Sport Principle
Success on the tennis court, in part, depends on a player’s ability to surprise his opponent, to do the unexpected. Perhaps to quickly move into the net at the end of a set dominated by baseline play. The opponent will invariably be caught out by this change of strategy because he or she is simply not expecting it, and is, therefore, not ready for it. Or perhaps it is as simple as a player changing their service direction. Federer is well known as a master of understanding service patterns. Andy Murray is an expert at playing the drop shot, precisely when his opponent is expecting a deep, rallying shot. But to successfully carry any of this off takes effort and practice and relentless training. Tennis players, like all of us, enjoy being in their comfort zones, doing what they know will always work for them. This is why something as simple as an opponent who is able to read, anticipate and exploit their movement is so devastatingly surprising, and, therefore, effective at beating them, precisely because it is so rare.
Application to Life
Try something different. Drive home from work a different way; order a new kind of coffee, from a different shop; get an alternative haircut! Or whatever the equivalent is for you. Perhaps for some of us, it starts here. Little things to break us out of our mundane predictable routines, start to communicate to our souls that there is more as we are nudged towards the abundant life that God has for us and that Jesus came to give us. Pay your wife a compliment; surprise her with a gift; I dare you – be unpredictable; take her out to a restaurant, a different one!
Show kindness to a stranger, especially one who is never going to be in a position to repay you. Put your hand in your pocket and give generously, to church, to a charity that you regularly support, but do it more generously than usual, to an individual you know needs help, but do it anonymously. Speak up and share your faith with someone you know will ridicule you for it, but do it anyway. Now that’s unpredictable, but who knows? You might just pull it off! Just like the tennis player with the winning shot that is the one his opponent least expects, perhaps it is precisely the unexpectedness of your boldness and courage that wins you the right to be heard. Jesus and His New Testament Church seemed to specialise in the unpredictable: Who knew that you could pay your taxes with money found in the mouth of a fish? (I want to know where those fishes swim!) Who knew that people could be healed with a handkerchief? (Who first found that out?) And who knew that a man 4 days dead, and rotting in the tomb, could be brought back to life! People don’t rise from the dead! Do they?
“The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’”John 11:44
Image Credit: Josephine Gasser