Post # 978
Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the ball where it lies.
It was a beautiful April Day and I am certain there was the promise of the summer days ahead, in the air. And here, when the day is bright (and sometimes even when it’s not), golf is what comes to mind first in our household. So as I sat and I thought about what to share with you, I decided why not try to find a lesson even in something as improbable as this sport. That is what I sought to convey the day I wrote the throwback “Thought” I am sharing today.
Golf! Perhaps the favorite sport in my family as I was growing up. My grandfather played, and he taught my father, who still plays at least once a week at nearly 86 years young! So it should be of little surprise to anyone reading this, to learn that I married a man who lives and breathes golf, as well. I remember the very first day of our honeymoon (which very nearly became the last day of our marriage), when Dan decided to play not one 18 hole round of golf, not two 18 hole rounds, but THREE 18 HOLE ROUNDS OF GOLF! The first day of our/MY honeymoon.
He left while it was still dark in the morning and he returned to the hotel room after darkness had fallen once more, some 12 hours later, to find his bags packed! (I would have been long gone, but he had the car!!!!!) Anyway, I mulled over the situation, decided I was better off with him than without him and so we made up and continued to have a blissfully wonderful 10 more days together, during which time he did not play another round, which was his penance! AND, while my husband has some disagreeable qualities, as do all of us, especially ME, one thing he is, is a gentleman. So is my father, which is why they both love what has come to be known as the “Gentlemen’s Game”!
That is what makes golf different from many other games played at both an amateur and professional level. You see, unlike other games which have referees or umpires who enforce the rules, in the game of golf, rules for acceptable behavior are self-determined. Yes, there is a written set of golfing “laws”. However, in golf, there is no “Big Brother” looking over your shoulder (save a million plus viewing audience overseeing every move on the PGA tour events). It is expected that when a play you make violates the rules, you contact tournament officials or the members of your four-some, you admit the violation, and you accept the consequences for your action. Sometimes that even means withdrawing from the competition or the game, if you are playing a friendly round at the local club! You see, in golf, unlike some other sporting competitions, integrity is always the rule and not the exception. Which is why golf is good practice for life, in general.
I once read this quote, “Don’t just go to church. Be the church”! A church is not a place or a building. A church is a place contained within every human heart. And while many golfers forgo church for a Sunday morning round, because of the gentlemen’s code of golfing ethics, most golfers are a church! You see, everywhere we go, the goodness of God’s light shines as a beacon through our behavior and the actions our attitudes engender.
We tend to think of words when we seek to explain things to people. But our words, while they carry much weight about who we are, do not reveal all that we are. Who we really are is revealed in the degree of our honesty and integrity in our dealings with others….something golfers understand. Who we are is seen by others in how we act toward them, and the kindnesses we offer by those actions that we take as we live our lives. Luke 6:38 ESV reminds us that even as we share kindness with others, so will God’s kindness and blessings be returned to us! “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
When we live life with integrity, standing up to and then openly admitting our weaknesses, we are seldom viewed as a weak person. Our weaknesses do not define us as a person any more that our eye color defines who we are. Instead, it is our honesty and openness….indeed, all of the parts that make up our character, that speak of the person we are inside. Yes, that is generally the part of us that is known by only ourselves and God, until our deeds speak of them to those we meet! And it is then that we all become God’s church to the world, although it won’t help us to become the next Phil Mickelson or Arnold Palmer!
“But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”1 Timothy 4:7-8 NASB
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