When I first entered the pastorate, I thought it would be a great plan to learn to play golf. I had heard rumors of the quality “ministry” that takes place on the links. After all, playing through 18 holes of golf with someone gave ample opportunity for quality time and spiritual instruction, right? This was all the justification I needed to spend my birthday money on a set of golf clubs. The problem was that I didn’t know how to use them. I mean, I got the general idea – hold club; hit ball; refrain from using four-letter words; repeat – but I had no clue about how to get the ball to go where I wanted it to go.
So, doing what all wannabe golfers do, I went to the den of iniquity known as the driving range. Again, I had the general idea figured out. But as hard as I tried, I couldn’t make a golf ball go in the same place twice. I hit a bucket of balls, and after realizing that I needed a little more practice, I decided to try again another day. Another day came and went; another bucket of balls and still the same results. Still another day, another bucket, another sense of absolute failure.
After spending my birthday money on a set of golf clubs, and after hitting several hundred golf balls at a driving range, and even after trying to observe the other guys at the range, I slowly lost my determination to any attempt at a successful golf course “ministry.” I retired the clubs and never once set foot on a golf course.
I wonder how many of us have approached our Christian life in much the same way? We approached the cross with a great sense of zeal, recognizing the opportunity given to us to “save the world.” We immersed ourselves in the world of Christianity, complete with Bible studies, conferences, camps and retreats. We even watched others in their walks with Christ. But, at the end of the day, we realized that this thing we call Christianity is actually quite a challenging task. It is not simply a matter of showing up and going through the motions. It takes determination to “play the game” and play it well.
In Mark 2, we meet four guys with a great deal of determination. They had a paralyzed friend who needed the touch of the Savior, but due to the crowd, they couldn’t even get him within earshot of Jesus, much less have the Lord touch him. However, these guys didn’t simply give up because it is difficult, they found a way through the difficulty and they got their friend to Jesus. They were determined and even though it was difficult, they rose to the challenge.
Maybe you’ve realized that a vibrant Christian faith requires more than just a casual interest. I can tell you that it takes a zealous determination. Becoming a Christian is easy, no doubt, but living the life that brings honor to Christ – that’s a different story.
I can say this – it takes much more determination than I had when I bought my golf clubs.
P.S. – I still have my golf clubs. Maybe one day I will get the determination to actually learn how to use them. Until then, anytime I yell “fore,” make sure you duck.