I used to play pool a lot. When I first started, about a third of my shots did what they were supposed to do and the rest were near misses or the result revealed incredibly bad judgment. It is an interesting game because it is all about forces and angles and vectors. It is basic physics in action and seemed like a person could clear the table if they could just figure out all the right angles and just how hard to hit the cue ball. My game didn’t improve much until I picked up this book written by Willie Mosconi on how to play pool. That’s when things changed. I started to handle the cue stick a little differently and I could make those long shots that I used to always miss. I started to get those shots off the cushion, combinations shots, and was able put English on things to sink a ball and set up the next shot. When I was in college the apartment complex I lived in had a pool table and some days I played pool more than I studied. After a while I was making shots without even thinking about it much. I was amazed and it was as if those balls were going in the pocket on account of “the force”.
For most people, life is like playing pool. We are always trying to learn that new thing that will give us an edge, find the right angle, or put some English on a shot so we will be set up for the next shot. If Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, were pool players, they might have tried to put forth some excuse for refusing to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image, or perhaps tried to put some spin on the story to make it seem less of a crime, or perhaps they would have just worshiped the golden image to save their skins.
Instead they said this to the king:
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. (Dan 3:17-18, NIV)
I think these three men realized that the life they lived was much bigger than the pool table that they played on from day to day. The text seems to indicate that they had no certainty that God would deliver them, nevertheless, they demonstrated that the greater thing, their bigger life and relationship with God, was more important that the outcome of any pool game.
I think faith for us today is about acting and living in accordance with the greater thing. That is really living large.