Green Bay has football and Singapore has table tennis. My memory of these cities connected to a particular sport is because it is where I first remember watching the sport live on television. With each, I thought I understood the sport until I watched the best compete. It was a fresh introduction to a game that I thought I played. When I saw it live, I realized that I played something quite different. It might have had the same name. Yet the game I initially saw on live television and then in person was something very different.
Yesterday, I caught a bit of table tennis. The differences were stark.
The best players play with every part of their bodies. Nothing is left uninvolved. When I play I think of my hands, eyes, and mind. When it is really intense, I may add my feet to my thought processes. Every fiber of their being was involved in the game. Where and how they placed their feet. The stance they held themselves in. Eyes, ears, hands, arms, legs, feet, body position, muscle attention, and even more that I could not see – all alert and in the game.
The best play with their attention totally focused on the game. Whatever was going on in their lives was put away for a period of time. Their attention was given totally to the game. You could see it in their eyes. The intensity of their will meant that any external event was ignored if it did not relate directly to what was going on at the table.
Most importantly from a competitive sense, they were obsessed. This was more than committing every part of their bodies and minds to the game at hand. Each man appeared to give totally and relentlessly. It was as if they had read about an old warrior, how “he won’t let up until the last enemy is down—and the very last enemy is death!” (1 Corinthians 15.24) They had heard and they had committed themselves without reservation.
In battle, being obsessed makes a positive difference.