The phrase “stroke of genius” means that a person discovers a very clever or innovative way of doing something. It’s an idea that is implemented at the right time in the right place. It can be as simple as passing the ball, instead of shooting it yourself. Did you ever think your life is a stroke of genius?
The Bible tells us that we are God’s workmanship – which can be translated as a masterpiece. It comes from the Greek word poiema and is where the English language gets the words poem and poetry. Poiema literally means “that which has been made.” In other words, God, as the Master Artist, has created us and He has created us for a purpose.
So how do we discover the purpose for which we were created for?
If this is a question you’ve asked, I’d like to offer a metaphor that might help answer this question. In tennis or any other racket sport, there are three central components to every stoke: (1) the backswing, (2) the point of contact, and (3) the follow-through.
When it comes to understanding your purpose, take a look at your backswing. Your backswing is your past, your experiences, and your preparation. As a biblical example, we can look at the life of Paul and see this principle at work. Paul’s backswing included rigorous study under Gamaliel, a respected teacher of the law and member of the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:34-40, 22:3-5). With this in mind, it’s not surprising then that God chose to use Paul to write half of the New Testament. This doesn’t mean that people need a Ph. D. to be used by God. God can use anyone’s backswing; the disciples are a prime example. Most of them were uneducated fishermen, tax collectors or zealots, and that was all the backswing God needed to change the world.
The bottom line is that God can use anyone’s backswing. Our past might not look the greatest, it might not include degrees and accolades, or anything that the world deems impressive. God is known for taking the weak things of the world to shame the strong. Consider John the Baptist, for instance. He ate grasshoppers for breakfast, he didn’t have any sense of fashion and he lived out in the desert, yet Jesus said that “Among those born of women there has never risen anyone greater than John the Baptist…” Do not despise your backswing; because in God’s hands, it becomes exceptional.
Your Point of Contact
In our metaphor, the point of contact is the here and now; our present moment. Our past has set us up for the now. That’s why this moment is full of potential and the momentum that your life has generated. In tennis one of the keys in the point of contact is to keep your eye on the ball. It’s a simple principle, but players take their eyes off the ball too early and look up, and that’s when mistakes happen.
Here is an important note: God does not call us to live in the past nor the future. Life is lived in the present. The point of contact is every day God grants us; don’t dwell on the past and don’t spend your days dreaming about the future. Too much dreaming prevents living. And living in the past keeps us from what’s ahead. It’s important to reflect on the past and hope for tomorrow, but we must live in the now. “This is the day [this day] that the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Everything in our life has brought us to this moment. The past we carry in our memory, the future is before us, but this moment is our most tangible reality. But you know what’s a tragedy, there’s a good chance that when we got up this morning, we did not think of today as the most significant moment of our lives. Am I right? If you’re not graduating, getting married, giving birth, moving to a new country, or starting a new job, today can easily seem ordinary. And the mistake we make is to equate ordinary with insignificant. But the game-changer is that God is in the ordinary as much as he is in the extraordinary. When we recognize that God is with us right here, right now, we’ll understand the significance of this moment.
A stroke is not complete without the follow-through; it helps guide the ball to where it needs to go and it happens as a result of the natural momentum that the backswing creates. Our follow-through is the future and God is using the momentum of our past to complete the stroke of genius.
As Christians, our future is bright because in Christ we’ve been created anew to do the good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do. This doesn’t mean our lives will be free from sorrow and hardship, but rather it means that in the midst of all that life brings our way we can thrive and let our light shine. In Jeremiah 29:11 God told the people of Israel, while they were in exile, that their future was bright. His words to Israel apply to us today, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Our life in God’s hands creates a follow-through that is brilliant; full of hope and radiant future. Your life is a stroke of genius.