Golf. The old gentlemen's game.
Even if you don't play it yourself, you have probably heard what people think it was named for:
Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.
Fortunately that doesn't stand true after a little research.
I don’t play often, but I do enjoy a good round once in a while.
The anticipation as I get my clubs ready.
The excitement as I set up on the first tee.
The thrill of feeling that perfect swing.
The laughter as I watch the ball fly into the bush.
The game that gives and takes away.
But is that all it is? A game? Or is there more to it than that?
Recently I was able to golf a beautiful course with a good friend. As I have reflected on that time, I have been able to see 6 spiritual lessons that speak to our everyday lives. Six different was to look at G.O.L.F.
1.Go Out and Live in Faith.
There are some beautiful golf courses in this world. Each of them has unique holes that challenge the player’s ability. One way they do this is by hiding the green from the tee box.
I find that on the holes where I can’t see the green, I don’t stand there and wonder if it is there. I firmly believe that I can tee off and move in the direction of the hole. I believe that the flag will be there.
Hebrews 11 is commonly known as the Hall of Faith. It summarizes the journeys of many of the men and women who have gone before us in faith.
I have read this chapter many times, and I have wished that I could have the testimony that they carry. In verse 39 it says that “they were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” (NIV)
That means that even though they didn’t see the flag, they teed off and lived in faith believing that something greater was waiting for them.
Live life in faith.
2.Go Out and Live in Fellowship.
As much as golf is an individual game, in my opinion it is always better when I go with other people. The time on the course creates an atmosphere like nowhere else.
The encouragement when we hit another shot into the pond.
We were meant to be in fellowship with others.
In Mark 6:7 (NIV) we read that Jesus sent out the Twelve in groups of two to do ministry together.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a good start to a good golf game to me.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) tell us that we need to remember to encourage each other, spur one another on, and not give up meeting together.
We need each other on the golf course, and we need each other in life.
Live life in fellowship with other believers.
3.Go Out and Live to the Full.
Even though my experience with golf is limited, I have come to find it is a game that is meant to be enjoyed.
The green grass.
The fresh air.
The feel of your body after the perfect swing.
A good birdie. A good par. Or even just the sound of the ball dropping into the cup after the fourth putt.
Why is it that we can enjoy the little things of life on the golf course, but we struggle to enjoy them elsewhere?
The green grass of the front lawn that needs to be mowed again.
The fresh air as we run a million errands and don’t seem to have time to catch a breath.
The feel of your body after the perfect hug from your kids as they step on your foot.
The birdies in the air. The ground under our feet. Or even just the sound of a good coffee dropping into a cup.
God has given us an opportunity to live life to the full (John 10:10 NIV). If we don’t take time to enjoy the little things in our lives, our lives will not be full and we will miss out.
Live life to the full.
4.Go Out and Live Free.
The golf course is a place where we can leave things behind.
Our jobs. Our worries. Our stresses.
It can feel like freedom.
Why? Because we choose to be in a place that allows us to do that.
Paul writes that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Gal 5:1 NIV)
Do you believe that? Do you believe that Christ has set you free so that we can live in freedom?
Is the golf course the only place of freedom for you, or is Christ THE place of freedom for you?
We need to make our own choice to walk in His freedom for us today.
Live life in His freedom.
5.Go Out and Laugh with Friends.
I find that sometimes I take myself way too seriously.
It’s in those moments where I tend to get cranky and not fun to be around.
I have come to believe that that is one reason why God has allowed me to play golf. If I take myself too seriously on the golf course, my whole game falls apart.
I get frustrated that I chose the wrong club.
I get worked up when my divet goes farther than my ball.
I boil over when my ball soars into the bush rather than the fairway where I pictured it landing.
Basically, if I take my game too seriously, I am setting myself up for failure.
That’s why golfing with friends is so fun for me.
We can all relax and have a good time as we laugh at some of those shots.
I think we can all learn a lesson from the Proverbs 31 Woman as “she can laugh at the days to come” because “she is clothed in strength and dignity.” (NIV)
If we prepare ourselves that some shots will be great, some will be findable, and others are just terrible, we prepare ourselves for a golf game filled with laughter.
What if we could approach life like that?
To clothe ourselves with strength and dignity so that we will be better prepared to laugh at the days ahead of us?
Live life laughing with friends.
6.Give Others (and Ourselves) Love and Forgiveness.
Golf is a game that can do a lot to our emotions. We have all seen the videos of people missing their shots and breaking their club, or throwing their clubs into the water. Funny as it can be, they are showing a typical human reaction to unmet expectations. The fact that their ball did not go where they wanted it to pushes them over the edge, and we get a good laugh.
There is a special word that I have applied to my golf game: mulligan. The idea that I can let that shot go and do a redo. What a wonderful concept.
In Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV), it says that God’s compassions are “new every morning.”
If I can wake up every morning and believe this for myself, my life could change dramatically. It’s a mulligan for my life.
But this is not just for me.
In 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV), Paul writes that love “keeps no records of wrongs.”
I have learned that in order for me to have a better chance at enjoying my game, I don’t keep score.
What if we could approach life the way the mulligan player approaches golf? What if we learned to live with fewer expectations and with more redo opportunities towards those around us? What if we could truly forgive others the way we want to be forgiven? What if we don’t keep score?
If we could do this, our marriages would change, our parenting would change, and our relationships would change.
If we truly believed that God’s compassions are new every morning, we wouldn’t beat ourselves up so badly for the time we messed up yesterday or last week.
And we wouldn’t hold it against others when they do as well.
I know that my golf game is not perfect. In truth, the pros don’t get it right all the time either.
I also know that in life I am not perfect, and neither are those around me.
But there is One who truly knows that and does not treat me as my sins deserve (Ps 103:10 NIV).
God is a God of second chances.
Live life with mulligans, for yourself and for others.
Golf is wonderful. It is meant to be enjoyed.
Life is wonderful. It also meant to be enjoyed.
If we can walk the fairways of life with Jesus, we will never walk them alone.
And that’s the perfect game.
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Brad in 2 Sentences:
I love to write and teach people of all ages about Jesus. If I can tell a story and tell you about Jesus at the same time, even better!