The Fundamentals on the Fairway
Iset my golf ball on the tee, got into position, addressed the ball the best way I knew how, and took a nice full swing. Positive I must have hit it a mile, I scanned the fairway, but my ball was nowhere to be found.
“You hit it way to the left. If you’re lucky, you may have made it through the woods and into the rough on the next hole coming up. Watch out if they’re on the tee.”
Certainly not the words I wanted to hear and coming from my father they added insult to injury. With my temper up and my spirits down, I shoved my driver back in my golf bag with a thud and slumped down in the seat next to my father.
“You’ve got to learn to keep your head down.”
There they were again. Those same words I had heard every time we played this game for the past twelve years.
My father started teaching me the game when I was fourteen. We played every Thursday night and sometimes on weekends from late spring through early fall. I was not exactly a quick learner, and didn’t practice much, so our outings usually went the same way. I would hit a few good shots and get overconfident. I was so excited to see where the ball was going to go that I would pick up my head too soon, which messed up my body position and caused the clubhead to hit the ball at an odd angle, sending it careening off to who knows where. I spent a lot of time looking for lost balls and wrote down many tens and elevens instead of fours and fives.
There were times I was sure my dad was going to give up on me ever learning the game. I’d certainly given him reason to. When you play in pairs, you are often teamed up with another pair to create a foursome. I’m sure it embarrassed him when I hit the ball into people’s backyards or when I lost my temper. Yet each time we were on the course he’d remain patient, always offering advice, always teaching, always trying to help me succeed.
Like the game of golf, after many years of Christianity, I haven’t mastered it. After some success, I have gotten prideful, forgotten my fundamentals, and gone astray. I have let God down. Yet, God hasn’t given up on me. It’s not in His nature.
In Lamentations, we read about God’s judgement on the people of Judah, yet, amid paragraphs of rebuke for Judah, we find in 3:22-23: “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.”
Like my father did, God wants us to succeed. His love is steadfast and patient, always teaching as long as we are willing to learn.
The Bible tells us much about how God desires us to learn from Him. Proverbs 1:5 and Philippians 4:9 are two more scriptures that address this.