they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. – Acts 11:22-24
Jesus – “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:35
This was my dream outing: Not just golf, but Rebekah driving my cart; not just North Carolina golf, but the impeccably manicured Hasentree Club; not just enjoying a beautiful day, but enjoying it with good friends; not just fresh air and lovely scenery, but dinner at the club afterwards.
Rebekah has no real interest in playing golf, but she loves the outdoors, and she loves our friends Jane and Ray, and – she added – “I love to drive the golf cart!” So I had the rare privilege of enjoying her company at the same time as enjoying the game. Talk about win, win.
The only possible improvement would have been had I been able to hit the golf ball with some consistency or accuracy!
One day – maybe when the fall colors have come out a little more, I plan on walking one of these courses with my camera and no golf clubs. Until then, these few images will have to do.
Golf may be a complex exercise in imagination, wishful thinking, coordination, frustration, and hope; but at the same time it is a lot of fun and a beautiful walk in the glorious North Carolina Piedmont, offering enough in the way of success to keep the wishful thinking part alive and the frustration – in moments at least – a distant memory.
People of grace:
Our friends Ray and Jane are regular golfers who know their way around the course. More importantly, they are great encouragers who are good to be around. This is true when playing, but has been even more true all the years we have known them at church.
I am especially grateful for people like that when I think about what a discontented, fractured, unkind and critical world we live in.
When we witness so much discontent (not just in politics but religion too) it is people of grace like Jane and Ray who help to reinstate faith, and hope, and belief, and promise. Because God’s intention in creating community, especially communities rooted in faith, is that we hold one another up, and – as Jesus said – demonstrate the truth about God’s love by being beacons of light and hope to this broken world, where people are thirsty and hungry for promise and redemption.
A note to the disconsolate:
Jesus’ words during the Last Supper, that his followers would understand the power of his message, are so poignant, prophetic, and helpful for today. “Then the world will know that you sent me,” he prays to The Father, “and have loved them even as you have loved me…” (verse 23).
I don’t care what political direction you lean, what your place is on the conservative to progressive continuum, or where you hang you hat in terms of religious affiliation, our starting place here in America should always be that of gratitude, affirmation, generosity of spirit, and celebration of all our blessings – and we must relate to others from such a context of thankfulness and respect.
I’m going to repeat that, and make it large!
This is how I feel when I hang out with people like Ray and Jane.
This is how my spirit has been uplifted and encouraged during forty years of ministry.
This is what I want for this country I love, and from people who share the faith I profess.
Peace – and gratitude – DEREK