"A Golf Lesson"
I grew up playing sports of all kinds. If a ball or competition was involved, I signed up and enjoyed what they used to call "the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat!" Many of my childhood memories include recollections of days on fields, courts, tracks, and perhaps most of all, backyards or sandlots where my friends and I gathered for the thrills, the agonies, and most of all, the fun.
I do recall one exception to my enthusiasm. During my senior year of high school, a golf team was recruited for the first time. Very few young men in the school had ever touched a golf club because of the economic makeup of the school. Most of us came from the poor to lower middle class range, wherein golf rarely finds a foothold or a following. I had played, and wasn't too bad at the game. However, when recruitment began, I hesitated. For some reason, I just didn't want to play on a golf team (maybe because I knew that only 2-3 of us in the school had ever been on a course). However, the new coach (a nationally known amateur player) and several friends badgered me for weeks until finally I gave in and joined the team. To this day, I am so glad that I did. Some of the sports memories I mentioned involve that spring when our golf team experienced "the agony of defeat" in every tournament we played (there were five of us. Two of the recruits had never hit a golf ball before joining the team). We lost by dozens of strokes in every match, but nevertheless had a great time. I played pretty well most weeks, was the medalist in one match, and can still remember moments from more than four decades ago when I wondered, "Why was I so hesitant about playing on the golf team?!"
"A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first"
Years ago, I recall hearing a preacher say, "Anything other than instant obedience is not obedience!" I wondered then, and I wonder now what planet he lived on. It certainly wasn't the one the rest of us occupy. Surely, the goal is a ready willingness to do the Lord's will. However, as long as we live amid the world, the devil, and the flesh (including our own), we will face many challenges regarding obedience. Frequently, we feel no instantaneous readiness to obey when God's will becomes known to us - "The flesh lusteth against the spirit" (Galatians 5:17). The Christian life involves overcoming challenges. If we never felt hesitation regarding the call to obey, there would be nothing to overcome. Our humanity sometimes recoils when faced with the Lord's will, and sometimes we desire to do just the opposite. However, such moments present opportunities to follow the path of the first son, who "repented and went." As we walk with the Lord, He works to change our minds when we feel contrary inclinations, and greater glory to Him often flows from those times when we initially hesitate, but then obey.
I was not yet a believer when I played on my high school golf team, but I now recall the blessed experience as illuminating a vital spiritual lesson. The day will come when instant obedience will characterize our walk with God. Let us hope for many such experiences even now. However, overcoming of natural inclinations often characterizes our present experience in a fallen world. I'm grateful for my coach and friends who hounded me until I relented, and for my Heavenly Father who taught me much in both the hesitation, and the subsequent blessing.
"This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
(I John 5:4)
"And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt."
Weekly Memory Verse
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.