I have always enjoyed playing golf. Getting out on the fairway helps me forget the troublesome issues of life. However, I play very infrequently, leaving my skill level woefully inadequate. I often find my golf ball hiding behind a tree, quietly waiting for me in high grass or grinning at me from a sand trap. How do I respond? Frustration! Isn't it ironic that I leave the frustration of real life to find therapy in the frustration of golf!
Recently I heard a British golf pro recounting the significant differences between a pro and a weekend hacker. He suggested that the most telling difference occurs in difficult circumstances. In a sand trap or in high grass, a pro actually believes that his or her shot can be placed on the green, near the hole. The weekend golfer whines and complains, keenly aware of the absence of skill and the need for "luck". The professional addresses the golf ball with a confidence no matter the location and difficulty. The difference between a pro and a weekend hacker?. . . The response.
Do responses to difficult circumstances reveal a difference in followers of Jesus? When our lives are in a "sand trap" or floundering in "high grass", we often whine and complain. The apostle Paul suggests that difficult times reveal the reality of faith in Jesus. How and why should our lives contrast from others? Even while acknowledging difficulty, does a joyful, prayerful, and grateful attitude prevail? A pro golfer is confident in his or her skill. We possess access to the power of the God of the universe. Is our confidence in Him evident in our response?
Paul says in I Thessalonians 5:16 (NIV),
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
I will be the first to admit that many of life's situations find me responding like a weekend hacker, complaining and trying harder to change the circumstances. This week, let us do God's will, living confidently in ALL circumstances because of our confidence in Him.
". . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." (Philippians 4:11, NIV)