Studied Long and Studied Wrong
For almost as long as I remember there was a pool table in our basement. At a pretty early age I learned the game. My dad and I spent countless hours trying to improve our games through the years. Even after I moved and came over to visit we would find ourselves going down the basement to play the game we loved! There were times when I took an unusual amount of time either lining a shot up or trying to figure out how to get position for the next shot. Sometimes after all of the study and detailed thinking the shot would go astray. At that point my dad would invariably say a little phrase “studied long and studied wrong.” Years ago I told my friend Steve about that saying and the other day he brought it up again. After all of these years it has stuck in his head. I won’t make the mistake of over thinking as to why he remembers this. However I think there are a couple of reasons. First of all it is a nice little rhyme. Secondly and more important there is so much truth to it!
What is the first piece of advice you are given when taking a multiple choice test? Usually they say “go with your first instinct.” We all have had the after the test blues. Regrettably we ponder over the answer that almost was. Our first instinct was to choose A, but then we started thinking. Maybe B or C could be right. When they give answers of both A & B or both A & C we really get confused. Out of the confusion we forget our first instinct. Somehow we are choosing between both A & C, and both A & B and our original thought is not in the equation. We are all aware of the deer in the headlights syndrome. I’m sure the deers first instinct is to run and get out of the road. But seeing the headlights they get confused and freeze.
The devil uses confusion as a tool in his arsenal. Initially Eve’s first instinct was to obey God and not touch the fruit from the tree of evil. They were told that if they ate from that tree they would surely die. “You will not die”, the devil disguised as a snake reasoned. “When you eat the fruit you will be like God knowing good from evil.” Eve was persuaded to abandon her first instinct and disobeyed God.
The disciples were on a boat without Jesus. Suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water to join them. Peter’s initial thought was that if he kept his eyes on Jesus he could do the same. When Peter asked. Jesus said “come.” Peter started walking on the water toward Jesus. Suddenly doubt set in. His initial first instinct was replaced by fear and he took his eyes off of Jesus and sank.
The devil attacks our initial thoughts when we are first saved. “Nothing really happened to you.”, he will lie to us. “You are the same person that you have always been.”, he will continue. Somehow he will bring our old friends into the act. Often when we tell them what happened to us they will voice in with their discouragement. “It’s all fake you know”, they might say. “Look at all of the televangelists that took all of that money and spent it on themselves.” You can see how discouragement from “friends” can shake the belief right out of the new believer. They may also come out with questions that you have no answer for. “Can God make a rock he can’t lift?”, they may ask. Once again, something to distract our original instinct again!
What is the first thing they teach you in the fundamentals of sports? “Keep your eye on the ball.” We’ve made our decision, our initial conclusion has been followed. Our eye is on the ball as it sits there on the tee. Right in the middle of our swing somebody moves, or somebodies cell phone goes off, or an airplane flies over. Whatever it is it throws us off and we lose sight of the ball. We become distracted and lose focus. The same thing happens in our walk with God. Originally we may be totally confident in our first instinct, but life goes on and discouragement sets in. People start telling us that we are not good enough. They start ridiculing us on our new found faith.
When we find ourselves in the world of doubt and question all of our initial thoughts we need to remember this. We as Christians don’t have all of the answers. It is a walk of faith. In time we will know all things, but now our view is limited and unclear. Our initial decision of following God was the right one. God has made a way for all people to get to Heaven. The saying goes “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” Settle it in your own heart today and quit over thinking! Our job, here on earth, is not to question how the plane works, our job is to get on board as we travel to where God wants us!
I can still remember those days and nights of playing pool in the basement. I didn’t always study long and study wrong. There were times that I ran the whole table quickly and accurately. When I got in that mindset I played with confidence going by my first instinct. I remember my dad smiling in admiration at my accomplishment much like our heavenly father does when we accept his love as a child without question or doubt.