Our home sets on the sixth hole tee box of a 497-yard par five. The tee shot on the hole must be nearly perfect as the tee box is guarded on both sides by large trees. If you get your ball through the narrow corridor of woods the hole opens up enough for your ball to hit in the fairway. But, if you hook it left, you’re in the woods, slice it right and you’re in the pond. This past year 778 golfers either hooked or sliced their shot bad enough to lose their golf ball. I know because that’s how many golf balls I collected on the sixth hole last year. Who knows how many more were lost on the other 17 holes. A few days ago, I was pilfering through my buckets of golf balls, and it struck me that over a course of a year, that if I had 778 golf balls, that meant there had been at least 778 bad shots on the sixth hole alone. It also hit me that even though I had heard several weird sounds after errant shots and more than a few curse words, as far as I know, I had never seen one person give up, quit, go to the club house, put their clubs in their car, and go home. No, though they hit a bad shot, they continued to play their round of golf. Why? Because one shot does not make a round. While a bunch of poor shots can put you in a bad mood and cause you to have a bad round of golf, you can have a bad shot or two and still shoot a good score. Even more, you can have an off day, come back the next and shoot par. That’s important to remember and it makes for a good life principle too. Not every day is every decision going to be right down the middle. Once in a while you are going to hook a decision or slice a choice. It might be a business decision, the wrong word at the wrong time with a spouse, or a bad moment with your children, but that decision, wrong word, or bad moment doesn’t have to define you or your life. Too often we feel like failures because we’ve made a couple of bad decisions or poor choices, but we all have bad moments, bad days, and even bad weeks, but we must not allow those moments to define us, corrupt our spirits, or cause us to quit. Our adversary’s objective is always to get us to think, that one choice, one bad moment, was your defining moment. Give up, give in, and quit. His goal is to cause us to become discouraged, to give up on our marriages, to say I’m a failure as a parent. I’m here to say, don’t allow a bad decision or moment define you. Keep fighting. Keep swinging. Keep playing the game. You can still win. God is for you! How do I know? The Bible shows us. A woman had not one bad swing, but five, and was in the midst of another bad swing. She had five husbands and was getting involved with man number six. Society had discarded her, religion had likely abandoned her, but not Jesus. He shows up, adjusts her perspective, offers her grace, gives her hope, and by the end of the day, she is inviting people she had been avoiding in the morning to come and meet the man who had changed her life. This was no one day, happy, good feeling moment, this was a realigning of her vision and allowing her to see herself as Jesus did. That’s what God wants to do for you. If 778 golfers can keep playing after a bad shot, if Simon Peter can go from a man of denial to a man of destiny, and Paul can go from a terrorist to an evangelist, then what is your excuse? Get up. Keep fighting. If you fail, make this life decision. That from this day forward I will get up one more time than I fall.
“It was on fire when I laid down on it,” that was the man’s response when asked by an investigator about the fire that had ravaged his home. His response to the investigator begs for a follow-up question, why would you lay down in a bed that was on fire? The follow-up question leaves room for the imagination to go wild as for the response you might get back. I was really tired. I didn’t think I’d get burned. It was just a small fire. Whatever the response, there is no good reason for laying down on a bed that is on fire. While we laugh at the story, in reality, many of us do things that don’t make sense. Yards away from the Promised Land, after experiencing miracle after miracle for two months, the children of Israel reject God and meander in the wilderness for 40 years. That is a “it was on fire when I laid down on it” moment. Judas, chosen to spend three- and one-half years with Jesus, God with us, watches as Jesus opens blinded eyes, deaf ears and raises the dead to life and decides to betray him for 30 pieces of silver. Definitely a “it was on fire when I laid down on it” moment. What choices are you making now that the future will make it obvious that they were unwise? Putting almost everything ahead of being faithful to God’s house, thinking it won’t make that much of a difference, that it’s not that dangerous. Investing in our kids’ extra-curricular endeavors while not valuing the importance of knowing God, Biblical doctrine and experiencing His presence. Dabbling in things that take us away from our sensitivity to God and His presence and thinking, I won’t get burned. A simple suggestion today. Don’t lay down in something that is burning.