I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:7
I have a confession to make. Often when I play golf I don’t play by the rules, if my opponent will allow me not to. For example, if I hit into the woods or a bunker, I will find my golf ball and throw it out onto the fairway instead of having to hit my way out. After all, all fairways are different and if I had been on another fairway I probably would not have hit into the woods or bunker anyway, so it’s just not fair. Why should I have to deal with something that could have been avoided by just playing on a different course? It’s not fair for other people to compare my score to theirs if they have not played on the same course.
At least that’s how I used to play but not anymore. In a Bible study I was giving tonight somebody said something that totally changed how I look at my golf game as well as life. We were talking about the trials God sees us through and talking about how those trials make us stronger. We mentioned the Andre Crouch song called “Through It All.” In that song Andre asks the question, “If I didn’t have any problems how could I know my God could solve them?”
That is when it hit me. Back in early February I was watching the AT&T Pebble Beach PGA classic on TV. I remembered when Steve Lowry who later won the classic, was hitting out of a sand trap in the middle of the fairway. I marveled when he hit out of the sand trap and onto the green some 150 or 200 yards away just a few feet from the hole! What a beautiful shot! I am lucky if I can just get out of the trap. No way could I ever get up onto the green from a trap that far away. Tonight it hit me that I never will be able to do that if I keep throwing my ball into a more favorable position instead of just playing it where it lies, like Steve Lowry did. God will never be able to show me and the world what He can do for and through me unless I learn in golf and life to just play the ball wherever it lies. I can make excuses that I am just on a tough fairway and should be excused from the trial. I can just pick up my ball and drop it in a more favorable spot and just hit from there. Or I can just call upon the really great God that I have to help me right where I am. I can go play on an easier course or I can let God develop the skills I need to win right where I am.
From now on, I will play my way out of the woods and out of the sand traps and bunkers, so I can develop myself into the type player who, will one day hit out of a difficult place right onto the green next to the hole. I won’t be just dropping the ball out of the woods and traps to a more favorable spot. I will be facing my trials head on. I won’t be blaming my problems on the particular fairway I am on. I will accept my lot in life and just play the ball where it lies. I will allow God to use these trials to make me a better person not just on the golf course but in life.
Who knows? Maybe one day my most beautiful shot in golf or life may come while I am in the woods or a sand trap.
Check out my friend’s sports blog. http://bulldogsportsblog.blogspot.com/
Okay I want to share something personal on my blog tonight. I mean what’s the point of having a personal blog if you don’t write personal things. It’s not a big deal, but I want to share with you a personal ritual that I have. I share this because I wonder if anyone else does this or if they themselves have any personal rituals that no one else knows about or may be unique.
Here is what I have been doing for a long time now. My ritual is the way I wind down on Saturday nights, not just from the day but kind of from the whole week. I love it when my Sabbaths are full and busy. Often at the end of a very full and busy Sabbath Saturday night will find me with a group somewhere or maybe two or three friends having a quiet dinner at a restaurant. To me that is a very relaxing way to end the day. But then I do something else that I am not sure if anyone else ever does or not. Here goes:
After I leave my friends at the end of the night and everyone else goes home to bed I go to a convenience store and buy my favorite cherry Soda. I then get in my car, put in my favorite CDs and cruise Tampa Bay, especially Bayshore as I just relax, cruise and think about what a wonderful life I have and what a wonderful week it has been. I relive in my mind the highlights of the week. I think about my friends and the nice things they said and did that week. I think about the answers to prayers and little miracles I saw that week. It could be anything from someone we anointed at church surviving a risky surgery or it could be something simple but just as inspiring, like someone showing up at church after getting upset and saying they would never come back. I may contemplate something I said or did that was rude and then contemplate how forgiving the person was who I said that to, and how quickly they forgot what I did. I will then ask myself to be just as loving and forgiving, and ask God to help me be nicer.
Any way I just drive around for a few minutes all by myself contemplating what a beautiful place I live in, what good friends I have, and how lucky I am. I love being with friends, but I also really love my time alone with just God and my thoughts. I love reflecting on life and even analyzing it a little bit. Sometimes when I think of getting married I fear that I will not have any time to myself anymore. I think I may be different in the fact that I love both being with friends and being all alone. As a single person I get to be in control of when I am with people and when I am alone.
I love my Sabbaths. I love them full and busy and with friends. Then at the end of the night I love ending it with just God and me and a nice cruise, relaxing to my favorite drink and CDs as I reflect on the day and previous week. I love driving along the shore. I love driving through the old neighborhoods on Davis Island. I love driving by the old churches we used to meet in over on Nebraska Avenue and Florida Avenue and just wondering what a Sabbath looked like there 50 or so years ago. Wierd I know. I reflect on all my blessings and thank God for my life and for everyone and everything He has brought into it. Then I go home to bed with warm fuzzies in my heart. Sound like a strange ritual? I have never shared this with anyone before. If you have any personal rituals please share them with me. Sharing is fun.