I’ve talked a lot about my golf passion several times on past devotionals. And, keeping along those lines, my devotional this week might cause some of my fellow golfers to look at their golf game a little differently going forward. More specifically, you might look at your golf bag differently after reading this week’s message.
I recently purchased a new Sun Mountain 4.5 14-way stand bag. Now if that’s “greek” to you….let me spell it out in plain English. It’s a golf bag, that weighs around 4.5 pounds (empty), can stand on the ground with legs that pop out when pressure is applied to the bottom of the bag, and there are 14 individual holes for the maximum allowable golf clubs (also fourteen). My closest friends will not be surprised that I wanted a bag with those individual holes. I’m super organized, and am a firm believer that everything (in life) needs to go back in its rightful place after use. Pull the club out, swing at the golf ball, put the club back into its hole….move forward and get ready for the next shot.
All of this brings me to the point of this week’s devotional. I did some research on Google, and even asked one of my golf pro friends, Rob Harner, how to best organize my clubs into the 14 holes. Should I put the shorter clubs, the “wedges” near the bottom? Should I put the longer clubs (the driver and woods) near the top? Where’s the best spot for my putter?
After over-researching those questions, I was left to the conclusion that it’s another of life’s first world problems that really comes down to personal preference!
I did find some parallels in organizing my bag last night, to how I organize my spiritual life. Bear with me as I walk you through this!
Let’s start at the bottom of the grid where into the line of three holes, I’ve placed my wedges: a 50-degree, a-56-degree, and a 60-degree wedge. These three clubs are essential to my short game, but the toughest (lately) for me to master. These represent my family at home; wife and two sons. Often neglected during my practice time on the range, but often times I come to the realization on the actual golf course, how important these “wedges” are to me. And because they’re at the bottom, I find myself looking at them first when walking up to my golf bag. Another reminder to always put those three important people as paramount every day.
Next, above the row of three wedges, is a row of four holes. Beginning with the three holes from the right, I have three irons; 7 iron, 8 iron, and 9 iron. These three are always together and get a lot of use during my golf game. These represent my extended family; my daughter, my parents and in-laws, and my siblings. A swing coach once told me that when I use these three clubs, 7-iron, 8-iron, 9-iron, that my swing needs to be more compact; tight follow through; stand a little closer to the ball. So true is it with the people represented by these three…..especially “standing a little closer”…..
There’s a fourth hole to the far left on that second row that I reserve for my putter. Now, the putter is unlike any other club in the bag. Not paired with any other wedges or irons. And typically the putter serves a singular purpose. Now, I have seen some that will “putt from way off the green”, but it’s still a “putt”. Little room for error. When I putt the ball, I step back, line up my shot, look at the way the green is flowing along the projected path and make a judgement on the velocity the ball needs to take to the hole. The putter in my bag represents “me”, oddly enough. The putter reminds me to have focus, address the things that might cause me to fall off that path, and understand what it takes to get there in a timely manner.
The next row up similarly has 4 holes. And just as the previous row, I keep another set of three irons and another specialty club. The three irons are the 4, 5 and 6. These three, also kept together, represent my distant friends, such as former work colleagues and college classmates. Honestly, I don’t use these clubs much, but when I pull them out of the bag, it’s usually one of those times where I really need something. How many of you have life-long friends you don’t speak to much, but you can pick up the phone and call them in a pinch? With so much going on in my life, it’s hard to stay in touch with this group. But, I know they are there for me, and me for them as well.
The specialty club is my Hybrid. For me, I use my Hybrid club in many, many situations. Sometimes, if the ground is soggy near the green and I’m in a situation that would normally call for one of the wedges, I’ll instead pull out the Hybrid and use a well-calculated putting stroke with that specialty club. Or, in other situations, I’ll pull out the Hybrid to hit the ball a little longer than I think I can with an iron. My Hybrid club is represented by Jesus in my life. I need Him in certain, key situations. That Hybrid is “reliable” more than other clubs in my bag. And I realized that I need Jesus in all aspects of my life for reliability; for accountability. Like this club, Jesus is universal and has a role all around the golf course. For us, too, Jesus has a role in all aspects of our lives. It’s up to us when we choose to invite Him into “play”.
The final row at the top is just three holes. To the far left and far right, I have two 3 wood clubs…..yes, two of the same type club but they have different loft angles. Arguably, these clubs are practically the same and I tend to use one or the other without rhyme or reason. These two represent my Christian faith; one that I display at Home and one that I display at Work. That display is basically the same, but different environments. In my professional career, I’ve learned how to be a leader of strong character just as I should be at home (and in my community). I never want to be two different individuals. I want to be mostly interchangeable. This is what I think about when I see the two 3 woods in my bag.
Lastly, in the center of the top row is the Driver. The “big daddy” of the golf bag. So might say, the most important club in the game. When uses correctly, it packs the most power. And when aligned, it makes the ball sail straight down the fairway. My Driver is God in my life. Do I need any further explanation on this one? Hopefully not!
My prayer this week is that not just the golfers in our lives, but all of us, can look at the people and things around us that help us walk the Christian faith. As is true in golf, my prayer continues to be for straighter “drives” off the tee-box, selecting the correct tools when we get into trouble along the course, and smooth greens that always remind us of the greener pastures of Psalm 23.