Grace and Golf

Many of you who know me know how much I love golf. Many of you who know me also know that last week I had the best nine holes of my life scoring six straight pars and finishing with a 41 on the front nine, and a 47 on the back nine for a total of 88. A great round for me. Many of you also know that I had a tremendous encounter and healing with God on the seventeenth hole. It was an amazing time. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty confident about my game. So, with an unexpected opportunity to play this week, I was hoping for another great round. Much to my surprise, I had the worst round of my life. Ridiculously high score, somewhere in the 100’s. With this in my mind as I went to prayer with God, this is the word that He spoke with me and the lesson learned from the worst round of my life.

Be careful with sports and exercise, it doesn’t fulfill you. Be careful with diet, it doesn’t fulfill you (either doing good on one or bad on one). Be careful with study and learning, they don’t fulfill you. In short, be careful with your successes, they speak nothing of your self-worth and value. Additionally, be careful with you failures, they speak nothing of your self-worth and value. Fulfillment and acceptance come only from the love of God. God’s love for me and his desire for relationship with me is dependent upon neither my success nor my failures. If I am righteous, this love for me remains unchanged. If I sin, His love for me stays constant. Hence, my fulfillment and acceptance are secure whether I succeed or fail. We don’t achieve to receive fulfillment. We are fulfilled, so we are free to achieve.

I’m grateful and glad that I played that terrible round of golf. It helps root our my own sense of pride. I felt so unworthy and rejected by this terrible game of golf. I felt like a complete failure. It really shook me to my core. Then, I realized that golf wasn’t the issue, but something inside of me was the issue. As I prayed and asked God to reveal to me what He wanted me to learn about this experience, Rina came into the kitchen and wanted to share something with me. This is what she read: “It is of great importance to guard against vexation on account of our faults; it springs from a secret root of pride, and a love of our own excellence; we are hurt at feeling what we are.” (1) It never occurred to me that I had a “secret root of pride.” I just never knew it was there until I had a great round of golf and then a terrible round of golf. Through this circumstance, He has revealed more of me that needs more of Him. There were some lessons for me to learn in this.

We mustn’t despair when we make mistakes. We are imperfect creatures moving, in a process of sanctification, into perfection. He has created a milieu of grace for us to exist inside, one in which we can practice righteousness without fear of condemnation or judgment. Despair and depression over our own faults and shortcomings, is a deep form of pride and a false humility. Bill Johnson writes, “In my own pursuit of God, I often became preoccupied with ME! It was easy to think that being constantly aware of my faults and weakness was humility. It’s not!…By being sold on my own unrighteousness, the enemy has disengaged me from effective service…It may sound strange, but I don’t examine my motives anymore. That’s not my job. I work hard to obey God in everything that I am and do. If I am out to lunch on a matter, it is His job to point that out to me. After many years of trying to do what only He could do, I discovered I was not the Holy Spirit. I cannot convict and deliver myself of sin. Does that mean that I never deal with impure motives? No. He has shown Himself to be very eager to point out my constant need for repentance and change. But He’s the One with the spotlight, and He alone can give the grace to change.” (2)

The soul that is rooted and grounded in love will recognize that failure, shortcomings, and faults are only indicators of one simple thing. A further need for dependency upon Him and His Grace. They do not define who we are, and they are not indicators of any future events. They simply indicate aspects of the fallen nature that have built a resistance to the Holy Spirit. These, He will root out. Humility is not despairing over our faults, but recognized the need to turn more to God than to ourselves. Our failures and success should turn us both likewise, unto God, not to ourselves.

Endnotes

1. Guyon, Madame, A Short and Very Easy Method of prayer; which All can Practice with the Greatest Facility, and arrive in a short time, by its mean, at a high degree of perfection.”

2. Johnson, Bill, When Heaven Invades Earth A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. 2003, page 147-148.

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