Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.” – Lamentations 3:22-24
Winter golf is a great experience. Especially when the day is cold and clear. Of course it’s not so easy to hit the ball cleanly when your hands are numb and you can’t feel your fingers. But golf on a day like yesterday isn’t about scoring well it’s about the experience of being in the outdoors with a good friend, drinking in the fresh air, and most definitely not keeping score.
While we didn’t keep count I did learn a lot. Or maybe I should say what I already knew came home with more clarity. You see, knowing and learning are not necessarily the same thing. There is a lot going on in America today that people “know” about, but the question, “are we learning anything?” is an entirely different idea.
Anyway, what I already knew about my golf game but evidently hadn’t quite learned yet is the fact that I can only hit the ball properly if I trust my decision and commit myself to the shot. Case in point an uphill par 3, playing 155 yards. For that distance, in normal conditions, I would hit a full 8-iron. But I already knew I wasn’t hitting the ball very far with cold hands. Also there was a breeze in our faces. “This means I need to hit a full 7-iron,” I said. I knew I should commit to the shot just like I would have with the 8-iron. However, halfway through my swing I eased up a little because I was suddenly afraid the ball would fly too far. The result was a clunky-sounding mishit that barely made it three quarters of the way there.
Because we were practicing and not keeping score I put down another ball. This time I committed to the 7-iron shot one hundred percent. The ball landed in the middle of the green.
Simply put, the mechanics of a golf swing require me to lean in with undiluted commitment. If I throttle back then everything changes, from the way my body rotates to the angle of the club on impact to the plane the club travels to the follow-through to the orientation of my body as I make the turn.
Second guessing has no place during the swing. Once I have determined the conditions, selected my club, and picked my target, then the way I follow through absolutely must trust the decision, and commit wholeheartedly to the shot.
Golf is an exercise in trust and commitment, or it quickly becomes a compelling demonstration of failure.
Sometimes, thinking about my life, I wonder about my lack of trust in Jesus and my wishy-washy commitment in terms of follow through. This is how I understand salvation: Salvation is my active alignment with and participation in God’s work in this world, God’s initiatives of grace, mercy, love, light, healing, and promise. Salvation is not just a gift we receive, it’s an initiative we participate in; it’s not transactional so much as it is transformational.
This life of faith requires me to trust in God and fully commit to walk with Jesus in the power of the Spirit. When I hesitate, I mishit and hack it all over the place; when I commit to the path ahead the result is a thing of beauty.
I am so grateful to Jesus for his patience with me and God’s belief in the second (and third, and fourth…) chance. It’s like the Father, the Son, and the gift of a Holy Mulligan.
In joy and in gratitude – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.