For, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come… – 1 Timothy 4:8
Thursday, given the amazing gift of 65-degrees along with beautiful sunshine, my friend George and I ventured out for our first 18-holes of golf since October. We had a wonderful time.
Halfway around, after my tee shot at a long par three tracked the pin for most of its flight before falling away at the critical moment, I remembered the following incident involving pro-golfer Phil Mickelson.
I had watched Mickelson make a “hole-in-one” at a difficult par three during a tournament. After he finished his round one of the announcers said something like this:
“I’ll give you credit for a good shot, Phil,” he said. “But in the final analysis wouldn’t you agree that a hole-in-one comes down to luck? Wasn’t that little more than a lucky shot?”
Phil, at least in my recollection, said something along the lines of the following. “It’s an interesting thing, Johnnie, but I have noticed that the harder I work, the more I practice, and the better I play – then the luckier I get.”
The work always pays off!
Phil’s analysis was right on the money. It’s a lot like discipleship, I believe. I have conversations all the time with people who say things like, “I never feel that close to God.” And, “I wish I had your kind of faith.” And, “If God speaks to me then I’m sure I never hear it.”
I ask how much time they devote to prayer? Or how often they attend worship? And, are they in a small group? Then, how about Bible study? Routine devotional time? Meditation?
It turns out the sense of communion I have with God, the daily walk I experience with Jesus, and the clear promptings I receive from the Holy Spirit – these are not moments of, “lucky for you!” And they are not, “aren’t you fortunate?” Spiritual growth is more a product of – as Phil Mickelson pointed out – “The harder I work, the more I practice, and the better I play – then the luckier I get.”
- The harder I work at devotion,
- The more I practice the presence of God,
- The better I am at intentional discipleship
- – then the luckier I get (in terms of faith, and God speaking to me).
This is the season of “Lent,” y’all. This is a prime opportunity to put in the effort when it comes to following Jesus.
I would like to challenge each one of us to put in the time, and the effort, and the devotion to invest in our relationship with the Living God.
I may not know where God will lead you, but I can say in the greatest confidence that God will, that you will grow in faith, and that you will not regret one single moment you invest being intentional about your relationship with Jesus.
In love, and because of love – 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.