"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

My Divot is Bigger Than Yours

Contrary to what those of you who know me may think, I actually do enjoy most sports. Just because I stink in playing them does not mean that I do not enjoy them. As I’ve mentioned before, my main problem seems to be determining what is age appropriate behavior. For example, someone of my age and joint condition should not be roller-blading, skateboarding or sky-diving. So, considering that I enjoy the outdoors, the companionship of good friends, a good healthy dose of competitiveness and is definitely within my age appropriate parameters, I decided that my sport of choice will now be golf.

All of the guys I have played with have been far superior to me in their skill, but have always been gracious enough to spend an extra hour or so on the course as I play the game similarly to putt-putt. You know, hit the ball and it rolls a few feet and then rolls around a tree into a ditch. Sometimes it may actually leave the ground for a brief spell before it somehow manages to make a direct ninety-degree turn over to the adjacent fairway. But, my buddies and pals, my mentors and companions, my friends always manage to hide their snarky remarks in the guise of humor and friendly advice for the golf-challenged old man.

A couple weeks ago, one of our new Music Ministers at church (owner of the demon dog) called and asked if I wanted to play golf with him and two out of town guests the next day. Instantly, my insecurities and self image preservation went to full alert and I tried to explain how badly I played the game and how they would be better off playing with a mannequin than with me. The new music guy (who told me I had better not use his real name, so I’ll refer to him simply now as Batt) kept assuring me that they were not good players and I should not be concerned. I kept trying to convince Batt that I was seriously stinky at the game and he kept countering my protests with his rebuttal that it was “just a game”, “it will be nice to just be outdoors”, “it would be a good relaxed way to get to know each other outside church”, but, all I was hearing was hoots and clicks, blah, blah, blah. Finally, I agreed to do this.

The next morning came, I mustered all the self-confidence I could find in legal sources and headed to the course. We met, Batt made the necessary introductions and we headed out for a day of what I was sure would be humiliation, frustration and probably excommunication when I came out with some inappropriate word or action in front of our new Minister, simply known as Batt.

Sometime while the four of us teed off on the first hole, I felt a small glimmer of hope. Could it be possible? Had I actually found my Bizarro world golf buddies? Were Batt and his friends actually close to my level of stinky golf? As the day unfolded, I began to relax and feel much more comfortable with this group of guys who actually enjoyed being outdoors, having some good guy time and not letting the competitiveness get in the way of the game. The turning point of the day for me was on the sixth tee when Batt teed off with a full swing of his mighty 1-wood club, the ball popped straight up in the air and came right back down and plopped in Batt’s outstretched hand. There must surely be a Higher Power! Even I had rolled my ball more than it’s usual 20-25 feet down the fairway. After a couple more attempts, Batt had managed to dig divots into the tee area large enough to bury most small creatures. Not, that I haven’t dug my own share of holes on a golf course, but I was finally not the only one.

Now, where I’m heading with this. A divot is when your club digs up a section of the grass and dirt when you swing. Golf protocol dictates that you try to replace what you hit and smooth the area back out, however, there are golfers who just leave the holes and clumps of grass and dirt lying around. Some are big, some are small, but all of them are disruptive of the land and of the game. It only takes a second to clean up the area and once again, the integrity of the course is as it was before you (I) came along.

As we go through life, we make divots along the way. It may be a thoughtless word to someone in our family or at our jobs. It might be an action taken in anger when someone ticks us off in the parking lot or in the grocery store line. It could also be cheating our jobs out of our best efforts or anything else that is dishonest and affects our reputation or influence.

Just as the golfer can replace the divots on the golf course and restore the course to it’s original pure beauty, so can God replace the divots of our lives and restore our hearts back to purity with Him. All we have to do is recognize that we have scarred our life landscape by our words or actions and ask God to forgive us and He will. That is a promise. Then the purity of our heart relationship with Him is restored. It doesn’t matter how big, ugly or bad your divot (action or word) is, God is faithful to forgive and restore. We just have to ask.

What divots do you have in your life? I can’t imagine that you can have more than me and I know that God has restored each and everyone of mine. Thank you, Batt, for inviting me to a day of golf. Perhaps, we’ll do it again someday and notice that I didn’t mention about you driving toward the wrong flag back there on four.

And so for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


At 12:20 AM, Blogger Gina Burgess said...

No, Jimmy, you are not that bad. I am the world's worst golfer. I know this because I tried to take golf in college and the instructor told me to go back to tennis.

Seriously, I do try to clean up the divots I create. Believe it or not, I create fewer and fewer these days. Twenty years ago, the ground I walked on looked like poka-dotted carpet. :)

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Nancy said...

I love to golf! I haven't in about 2 years, we used to have a golf tournament here at work. I get frustrated because even though I can hit the ball straight, it doesn't go very far. You see, I am a wimpy girl (5'2" not a lot of muscles) so I am having to hit the ball quite a bit.

I like the analogy you made with the divots, If I didn't have the grace of God, I think my life would resemble swiss cheese.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Shelley said...

Hi, found my way here from a comment you left on Lady of Grace's blog.

I'm not a golfer, nor do I care for the sport. However, I am glad I read your post. It was interesting and enlightening and made a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing that. God bless!

At 11:31 PM, Blogger Broken Messenger said...

I've shot at a par-three course, twice. I shot badly so I guess I can feel your pain. So my encourage I guess, is that Paul never said we had to do something well, just heartily unto the Lord. This means we can still glorify God even while shooting a 130 to boot.


At 11:46 PM, Anonymous OldGuy said...


That was a really great story and I liked the way you tied the moral in.

I would have liked to be there to see that round of golf. It must have been quite interesting. ;-)


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