JUN 6, 2018 Devotional: “Praying for Birdies”

For this morning’s run, I had one of my favorite baseball caps on my head….turned around backwards, of course, to be more aerodynamic!  Didn’t help much, but today’s specific cap was more to emphasize my theme for the devotional….a “golfing” one.  The cap was a green Augusta Masters trucker-style cap.

If you’ve been around me more than 15 minutes this past year, then you’ll agree that one of my new passions is golf.  I try to play it as much as possible, but there’s work, family obligations, community involvement, tending to my chickens…..I live a fairly busy life!  But most weekends, I am on the golf course playing.  It’s created a whole new network of friends that rarely overlaps with some of the other circles I play in traditionally.  Not to say that any one group is better than the other.  Simply different pools.

And my endurance within golf is increasing.  I started out only playing 9 holes at a time.  Now, I’m able to swing the clubs 18 holes without much thought!

In our family, my brother-in-law, Kermit Murphy, carries our golfing banner.  He’s our resident “family champion” having played in college and also a VERY frequent participant in local tournaments and outings.  Safe to say it will take me years or even a lifetime to reach Kermit’s skill level.  But, still, I try and try … and it’s certainly a focus of mine.

But my focus, physically, rarely extends beyond the weekend.  Sure, there are days when I can play a quick 9 after work.  Mostly, its weekends on the links.

So, like most things in life, only swinging the golf clubs once or twice a week, also affects my performance.  While my stroke handicap has gone down…..generally a “good” thing…..my overall game is relatively stagnant.  I was thinking this week about my Christian life as well.  If I’m only a “good” Christian on Sunday mornings when we attend church services, could the same be said about that side of my religious life similarly being “stagnant”?  How many of you might say the same?

Much has been argued over the years about who are the better Christians.  Is it the group of individuals who we see in the pews regularly, singing all the hymns?  Surely they are the most pious of all.  Or, rather, could it be those who are more spiritual in their daily lives, focusing on their families, friends, and work colleagues?

In his book, “Jesus Outside the Lines“, the Rev. Scott Sauls tackles this point in one of the chapters that he’s labeled…”Hypocrite or Work in Progress”.  Sauls relays a famous quote from Mahatma Ghandi when asked why he chose to be a Hindu instead of a Christian.  Ghandi said, “I love your Christ.  I don’t like your Christians.”

Wow.  Pretty harsh stuff but maybe worth some introspection for all of us, even still today.  Ghandi’s observations seemed to indicate that the Christians he knew seemed more focused on materialism over service; richness over charity.  Famously, there’s another story about Ghandi where he was asked why he would use the pencil all the way down to the nub.  “I don’t want to offend the pencil maker”, he replied.

Let me reel this back into the boat before I get to far down a tangent.  I think Ghandi’s example for us is that living a Christian life is an every day thing….not just something we do on Sunday mornings.  We live busy lives….and I don’t want to be a hypocrite either.  You want your golf game to improve?  Spend some time on the practice range?  You wanna be more satisfied in your spiritual “game”….look for opportunities throughout the week to be thankful, be service oriented, love one another, and build on that relationship with our heavenly father.

My good friend and frequent Charlotte golfing buddy, Brandon Lawn, has a trucker cap he wears from time to time that’s labeled “Pray for Birdies”…. And for my non-golfing friends, the hat talks about aspirations of shooting one-under-par (a birdie).  Aside from Brandon’s lighthearted nature, the hat does point out that, in golf, there’s plenty of room for prayers.  And, more importantly, in our lives, there’s always more room for that as well.

My prayer this week is that in our lives, the fairways are wide, the greens are flat, our drives off the tee are perfectly straight….and our Christian efforts, too, are always focused on living well under par!  Work in progress, indeed!