Birdies, Bogeys and Something In Between

Hello blogging world! I took a few months off from writing but now I’m ready to put my thoughts on paper once again.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of going golfing. Now I did not actually participate in the golf game itself, but I did have the pleasure of driving around the cart, sipping on my drink and taking in the gorgeous scenery around us. What a perfect day God had made for us to enjoy! As I was driving around and snapping pictures when necessary, the scenery and the game of golf got me thinking about my relationship with God. By the end of the 18 holes, I had a pretty good understanding of the game of golf and a different outlook on God in comparison to golf.

For those of you not versed in the game of golf, let me fill you in, to the best of my knowledge of course. You begin at the clubhouse. You check in, pay for your game, rent a cart if necessary and then head over to the driving range to warm up a tad. You pick out various clubs in your arsenal and hit however many balls you deem necessary to prepare you for the course. The clubhouse eventually calls your name and it’s your turn to begin.

You begin every hole at the tee box. One of the challenges of the game, the hardest challenge in my opinion, is each hole is different from the next. Each hole is set up differently, from the distance from the tee box to the pin, or flag, to where the pin is on the green, front, center or back. Each hole is also littered with different obstacles, from sand traps, water and/or trees to whether or not you can even see the flag from the tee box. You tee off, the ball goes flying, and now the search begins.

You search the sky, try to follow the ball and see where it lands; then jump into the cart and head its way. Sometimes you are able to find your ball instantly, while other times you have to search for quite a while. It could land in the middle of the fairway, or in longer grass, called the rough, under some trees. Finally you find it, and now it is time to determine the next club you will be playing with in order to get the ball on the green or at least closer to it, and once again, there are many obstacles along the way.

Finally you make it to the green after much patience, planning and concentration. On the green, you have a few more things to determine than just the distance to the hole. You have to determine the pitch, the speed and the slope of the green, along with other things I have not learned about yet. After all of the questions you could ask are answered, you softly putt your ball towards the hole, hoping for it to fall. Finally victory is yours, the ball plunks into the cup and it is on to the next hole, starting the process all over again.

I’m sure you are thinking, how does any of this relate to a relationship with God? I am excited to share my thoughts with you. It truly amazed me how God was able to use such a simple, yet complicated, game to show me something about Him and His character and about me and my life. More so, He was showing me, yet once again, how ever present He is throughout all of life.

For each and every one of us, we begin our lives at the clubhouse. We are born into this world and begin this grand adventure called life. Each of us then make our way to the driving range. Some of us stay there for quite a while, some of us come and go often, others of us are only there for a few swings, but either way, we all begin to “practice” life. We try to find our way, try to determine how to live in this big world. We prepare for what is to come and might come. Eventually though, we all have to step into the tee box.

Some of us step into the tee box prepared. We know how long it is to the hole, we know which club to use and whether or not we can see the flag, we know God is guiding us to it. He is the one telling us the hole is 336 yards away. He is the one who picks out the club for us, our driver. We can’t see the flag but He pats us on the back and says “I’m here with you every step of the way,” and we trust Him to guide us in the direction needed.

Others of us step into the tee box semi-prepared. We know how long it is to the hole, we know which club to use, but because we can’t see the flag, we do not trust we can actually get the ball there. Once again, God tells us the hole is 336 yards away. He gives us the club we need, the driver, but we can’t see the flag. He reassures us that He will be with us every step of the way, that He will guide us, yet we don’t trust that He can actually see the flag, that He was, in fact, the one that placed it there in the first place.

Lastly, there are those of us who step into the tee box thinking we’re prepared, but really we are not. We try to determine the distance to the hole, taking a wild guess at 370 yards. We pick the club we believe will drive the ball there, an iron is what we grab, but we don’t really know if that’s right. Moreover, we can’t see the flag, but it has to be down there somewhere, right?

We tee off, the ball goes flying and it lands depending on the choices we made. How tight was your grip? Were your shoulders square? Did you follow through all the way? Did you keep your club straight the entire time? Just as in golf, the choices we make in our lives determine where we go. Sometimes we let God guide those choices, we listen and follow our Creator, other times, we do completely the opposite because we don’t trust that He knows what is best for us. We somehow forget God knows each and every part of us and our journey through life. We forget He placed the flag at the end of the hole. We forget He has walked this course, too.

Just as the ball can be found throughout the span between the tee box and the green, our lives can be found between the easy-going and completely lost. Sometimes we find the ball in the middle of the fairway. Sometimes we find it in the rough by some trees. Other times we find it buried in a sand trap, while others it has gone completely missing and is in the bottom of a pond now. Either way, it is time for another decision. How far away is the hole? Can we see the flag or are we going in with blind faith again? What club is needed for the elements we are faced with? Once again, some of us go in completely trusting God, while others of us go into it on our own.

Finally we make it to the green. We have gotten past teeing off. We have gotten past all the obstacles we could face before the green. We think we’re in the clear, but yet again, we have more decisions to make. Again, how far away is the hole? What is the pitch and speed of the green? Is there any slope? We think because we can see the hole, we can see the end result, it will be easy to get the ball in the cup, but there are still things to be determined, still mistakes to be made, still obstacles to overcome.

We could have everything planned out correctly, know the answer to every question but putt too hard or too soft, and have to add another stroke to our overall par, which is another element of golf. Every hole has a par, which is the pre-determined amount of strokes, or hits, it should take a golfer from tee off to the final putt.

Nevertheless, the ball finally falls into the cup. Victory is yours. You add up all of the strokes it took you to make it from the tee box to your final putt, and that is your score for the hole. For those of us who trusted God the entire way, letting Him guide our every decision, step, stroke and/or club choice, we were able to make it under par, resulting in an eagle or a birdie. For those of us who trusted God most of the way, wavering only a few times, we were able to make par, not under or over, just right on the money. Then for those of us who didn’t trust God at all, who relied on our own strength, knowledge and decisions, we, like the golf world would say, bogeyed, 3-putted or went over par.

One other thing I noticed, as I was driving around on the golf course and learning all of these analogies between golf and God, was how easy it was to lose fact that I was surrounded by something beautiful. Between the weather, the sky and the course, it was a wonderful surrounding. I was so focused on where the ball was, how far off the green was, where the hole was on the green, the various obstacles I, even as the driver, had to maneuver around, that I forgot to enjoy the glorious creation God had set before me. I think there are many times in life we get so distracted with trying to get through life, make all the right decisions, even down to trying to follow God perfectly, that we forget to look around us and enjoy what He has given to us. We forget to stop and take in the beautiful scenery surrounding our sometimes chaotic world.

I leave you with these few questions. Who are you letting guide you on the golf course of life? Are you letting Him guide you through every decision, whether you are just teeing off, are in the rough or putting for par? And lastly, while He’s guiding you through life, are you looking around and enjoying the beautiful scenery He has laid out for you, from the weather to the flowers to the people, and thanking Him every step?

Who knew you could learn something about God through the game of golf? I sure didn’t.

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