Losing focus between now and Christmas

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

Isaiah 1:1-3

This may not be a Christmasy post, but it’s worth the read nonetheless. Serendipity days are always encouraging, and this was a good one as I enjoyed a rare winter round of golf with my friend Keith.

With high temperatures yesterday maxing out around 42-degrees, golf didn’t jump out as an obvious activity. But the air was pretty much still, the sun peeked out occasionally, and there is a particular beauty to the stark winter landscape that is inviting and calming.

This is especially true when you literally have the course to yourselves and can play at exactly the pace you enjoy (that would be fast, jumping up and down a lot, jogging in place, trying to keep warm!).

– River Tar at the 2nd green

The River Golf Club (at Lake Royale) runs alongside the Tar River and features a challenging layout that requires imagination to navigate.

I started out hot, with easy pars on the first three holes. Then, inevitably, my usual game showed up and I relaxed into my typical routine of mostly bogies. The difference for me always comes down to concentration, and once I lose focus I tend to slip back from good to average.

Focus:

And, no, the lesson is not lost on me, and it is especially apropos to Advent. I can’t help but think of so many areas in my life where I start out “hot” and then lose concentration.

I am not saying that God prefers me to shoot pars than bogies! Far from it: I believe God wants me to enjoy my golf, regardless of how I score. But I do understand that God prefers for me to live a life that is more defined by excellence than average.

My life of faith. My marriage. My relationships in general. My work. The way I love. The care I show. The encouragement I give.

– Derek Maul lives and writes in North Carolina

I know that today, coming to the end of the 2nd week in Advent, all the intentions and sense of direction, and purpose, and belief in the journey are in danger of losing their focus, their enthusiasm, their momentum, their pursuit of “the highest.”

Be with me, Lord God as I seek to be more excellent in my walk with you. Be with all of us during this Advent season, and work transformation both in us and through us. Amen.

Enjoy these wintery golf course photos!

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