I enjoy playing golf. I’ve always thought of myself as an athlete. I played baseball and basketball through high school.
I continued to play softball and basketball until I was in my 40s.
While in college, I was encouraged to take golf as a P.E. class. I replied, "That’s an old man’s game." And I refused to play it.
It actually took considerable persuasion to get me on the course for the first time.
My first round was played in May 1984. I will never forget my first swing. I made perfect contact, sending the ball right down the middle of the fairway some 250 yards. As I bent down to pick up my tee I thought, "That’s not hard."
Four hours and 115 strokes later, I had been humbled. I have no idea how many golf balls were in ponds and woods as a result of my miss-hits and shanks that day. But it was the most frustrated I had ever been playing a sport.
Thirty-three years later I still hit some balls straight and others into woods and ponds. It seems the most consistent aspect of my golf game is my inconsistency. I can shoot 74 one day, and 89 the next — on the same course!
My golf game and my spiritual life are similar in that respect. There are days when I arise and quickly include the Lord. I read my Bible and pray first thing in the morning. Having started well I live as I ought. I’m kind and considerate, even when driving into Savannah.
And then there are those days. I lose patience and grow more frustrated with everything and everybody as the day goes on. I’m grumpy and short-tempered. I’m not the man God has called me to be.
Am I the only one like that? I doubt it. We are inconsistent. That’s why some people refer to us as hypocrites.
As Paul wrote in Romans 7, "I do the very thing I do not want to do."
And after it all, I’m embarrassed and upset with myself. I should know better.
And then I remember this: God is gracious. He is forgiving. He loves me. And I am encouraged by that thought. I’m going to mess up again, but because I am his child, the Lord forgives.
That doesn’t mean I should quit trying. But I can rest in the truth that he loves me and forgives. That is the good news of the gospel.