I admit it — I’m a golfer. Some people who have played with me no doubt would dispute that claim. But if the definition of “golfer” is one who plays golf, then I am a golfer.
I like to play the game. I surely do wish that I could play it better. I still have this dream that one day I will break par. And I hope that the day will come when I will make my first hole-in-one. Until that time, I just keep playing.
I never will forget my first golf experience. I never had played before. Three friends from my church in Louisiana took me out to the course the week after I graduated from seminary (my wife has never forgiven them).
I stood on the first tee with my borrowed clubs and surveyed the situation. Then I stepped up and took my first swing. With that tiny persimmon-headed driver, I swung with all my might.
To the amazement of my three friends, the ball sailed right down the middle of the fairway, coming to rest almost 250 yards away. My friends congratulated me: “Good ball!” “Great shot!” “Way to go!”
Can I make a confession? My first thought as I watched that ball fly where it was supposed to go was, “This is easy. Nothing to this game.”
And so I puffed out my chest and we walked down the fairway. Having by far the longest and straightest drive, I was the last to hit my second shot. Oh, that second shot! We never did find that ball.
One-hundred and fifteen strokes later — and yes, we played all 18 holes — I had been humbled.
I am a much better golfer today than I was in that first round back in 1984. I don’t remember shooting 115 again and only have gone over 100 a few times.
But there still are those shots that are absolutely mind-numbing and infuriating. I take what I think is a nice, smooth swing and hit the dreaded shank. If you don’t know what that means, just ask a golfer.
It almost always happens when there’s a crowd around. It’s embarrassing. It’s frustrating. And it’s humbling.
There’s that word again: humble.
The Bible says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 and Proverbs 3:34).
Humility is one of those character traits that is difficult to develop but powerful when found. To be humble is not to declare yourself the worst person in the world; it is to see yourself in light of who God is.
I recognize my place in golf — better than some, worse than many others.
But in life, that does not matter. God does not grade on the curve.
All that matters is that I grow to be more Christlike. The same thing is true for you. Let us humble ourselves so that God might give us the grace we so need.