Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Yep, I Hit The House

I heard it hit the house.  It hit it hard.  I stood there in disbelief as I tried to figure out just how in the world I hit the ball that far off course.  I mean I'm not exactly Tiger Woods on the golf course.  Actually the only similarity you might find is that both of our names start with the letter T.  While most of the time I find myself hitting from the trees along the right side of the fairway, on this rare occasion I yanked one to the left.  This golf course is located in a neighborhood so there are houses lining the golf course.  So, as I set up to hit my second shot there was a home located about 25-30 yards to my left.  The house's location to the ball took it completely out of play, so I thought nothing of the house. There was absolutely no way I could possibly hit this house.  It was not a difficult shot as the only issue was a large oak tree slightly left of where I needed to hit the ball. I pulled out my 3 hybrid and lined up to hit the shot.  Remember most of the time my shots go right.  However, for some reason on this hole I hit two shots in a row to the left.  Yep, that oak tree that was to the left?  It took a direct hit.  As I braced myself for the ball coming back at me, I heard it hit the house that was completely out of play.  To make matters worse there was a lady sitting out on the patio.  Her scream made me think not only did I hit her house but her as well.

My first thought was that thought you get as a little boy when you hit a ball through someone's window. "RUN!!!" "Run, Tim, Run and don't look back!"  Unfortunately at my age and current athletic state, running was not an option.  I couldn't blame it on my golfing partner as he was in the golf cart.  I had no option but to approach the lady.  So with tail tucked I set out to retrieve my golf ball.  She met me half way with golf ball in hand. I apologized half a dozen times, assuring her that I am not that bad, but that stupid oak tree was the real culprit here.  With heart rate still racing, she handed me the ball and told me that was a first for her.  Now, before I go any farther let me just say that I did not hit her with the ball.  I came really close, but thank God I missed.

I don't know how many golfers play that hole every day but multiply that times 365 and that is a massive number of golfers over the course of a year.  Perhaps some have nailed her house while she was not sitting out on her shaded patio, but I was the first to hit her house with her sitting out there? Of course I was because her house is completely out of play for each and every level of golfer.  Yet, somehow I managed to hit the ball that far off course.

Along my Christian journey, I've felt that far off course a few times.  No, it wasn't intentional, but there I found myself nowhere near where I should be.  Where I wanted to be.  Where I was trying to be.  Let's face it, we all miss the target a lot as we play this course called life.  Our efforts at loving one another and forgiving one another, much of the time look like that misdirected golf ball.  Our attempts at obeying God fall way short of where we expected to be when we teed off.  If we'll be honest with ourselves, our motives, thoughts, and desires are often nowhere near the fairway.  Just like my errant golf shot, we often find ourselves doing things or saying things that leave even ourselves scratching our heads.  How in the world can we be this far off course when we are desperately striving to hit our shots down the middle of the fairway?

There are a lot of reasons. I don't know that much about the golf swing to know exactly what I did wrong on that pathetic shot but I'm sure it involved my left elbow, wrists, follow through, swing plane, and what I was thinking before and during the swing among other things.  So it is when we miss it in life.  It could be any number of things.  It could be the result of our approach, our habits, or how we think.  It could be the product of what we think about God, how we see ourselves, or how we view others. Past wounds, unforgiveness, and fears all affect what we do and why we do them.  And sometimes the enemy plants himself, much like that oak tree, in the way to assist us in getting completely off course.

In golf when you make a bad shot, you take a penalty stroke and take a drop.  You're not eliminated.  You just continue to play on.  I did just that.  Unfortunately, I did horrible on that hole.  But, it wasn't just because I hit the ball bad.  Its because I couldn't get that shot out of my head.  Every time I approached my next shot, I was thinking about that pathetic shot.  So, I hit another bad shot. And then another one. And then another one.

Regardless of how off course we find ourselves on our journey, we've got to learn how to forget about the past and play on.  We need to be less concerned about how we got here and more concerned about how we play from here on out.  God is great at forgiving us and extending grace to us.  We need to take notes from Him on how to forgive ourselves and to accept His grace that redeems our past. That bad shot did not define me as a golfer.  I'm not Tiger Woods but I'm also not as bad a golfer as that shot would like to define me as. When you find yourself in the trees on your journey, or on the fairway to a completely different hole, remember that your current location does not define you.  Yep, you are way off course, but take a deep breath, forget about how you got there, take your drop and get back in the fairway.

Now, if you find yourself continuously in the woods as you journey through this life, addressing the issues that consistently get you that off course is a must.  Sometimes that requires a different set of eyes that can see things we are blind to.  Find a believer, a counselor, a minister who can walk you through those issues.  As you humble yourself in that way you'll discover that you end up in the fairway a lot more than you used to.  You won't have to try really hard to hit it straight. You'll hit it straight because its in you to hit it straight and you've decided to deal with the issues in your life that cause you to get off course.  

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