During the Super Bowl, I heard an announcer use a short phrase not commonly used. The announcer said a player had made “a miscue.” The words brought back a memory from a time in my life many years ago. When I heard the words, I also heard a promise for those who might feel like they only had one shot at something important in their life. 

For a summer during my college years, I managed a pool hall. It was an interesting experience and revealed a part of the world I never knew existed. I got to see first-time pool players struggle to hit the ball. I also saw professionals play high stakes games where hundreds of dollars went to the winner.

The phrase used by the Super Bowl announcer comes from the world of pool and billiards. A miscue happens when the cue ball is improperly struck and sent in the wrong direction. To execute a shot, pool and billiards players use something called a pool cue or cue stick. It is a wooden or composite stick with a piece of leather glued to the tip that a player uses to strike the white cue ball. Players add chalk to the leather tip to increase friction between the pool cue tip and the cue ball.  Once struck, the cue ball is sent to a target ball to knock it in the pocket. If a player fails to properly align the cue stick with the cue ball they will create a miscue sending the cue ball spinning in the wrong direction. 

I’ve watched professional hustlers in high stakes games actually jump a cue ball over another ball in the way of their target ball to make what appeared to be an impossible shot. Expert players can also perform something called a masse shot. When a masse shot is performed a player strikes the cue ball at such an unusual angle that it puts a radical spin on the cue ball causing it to travel in a curved path on the table moving around another ball that stands in the way of the shot. These unusual shots are what is called putting some “English” on the ball.

The word miscue has come to mean more than a missed pool shot. A miscue is described as a mistake or a blunder. That was what I heard when the Super Bowl described a player error.

Some of you may have miscued certain elements of your life. Maybe it was a promise from God, a relationship or a business endeavor. You took your shot but miscued your effort. You intended the result of your decision to go one direction, but because you did not properly set up your “shot” the result of your decision went the wrong way, and in some cases might have jumped off the table.

Just as a pool player has to start somewhere and learn the finer touches of the game, so it is with us. God has picked up the miscued ball you sent in the wrong direction and brought it back to you saying, “Try the shot again.” He will do what I saw professional players do with willing first-time students in the pool hall I managed. They showed the student how to properly set up a shot and send a ball to its desired target. Some of those fledgling students went on to become excellent players performing shots that seemed to defy gravity. 

Be patient with yourself after you experience a miscue. God is eternally patient when you make mistakes. He knows who and what He is working with. He has other shots for you to perform and He needs you at the table of life learning from the Master. Don’t walk away when you are just getting started. Come back to the table and let God show you how to make your next shot. 


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