becoming a golfist

Today I played 9 holes of golf with a very patient friend from our church. I really enjoyed myself and, with his help (thanks John) I improved to the point where I hit par on one hole  and bogies* on several others.

As I sliced the ball out of bounds, into a pond, across a pond Barnes Wallis-style (really!), into a bunker and in other unintended directions it did occur to me that hitting a ball with a stick should not be that difficult. But there are so many variables to get right simultaneously: grip, stance, swing length, club choice, head stillness, arm straightness, straightness of pull back, distance from ball, width of stance, straightness of back, turn of shoulders… that it is perhaps more of a miracle when the ball goes in the direction intended for the distance intended with the amount of loft intended – particularly for non-multi-tasking blokes.

Those rare moments when it does go right are wonderful, though, and make the rest of it worthwhile.

It strikes me that church is a bit like that: there are so many variables (often called churchgoers / members / ministers) that it is a miracle that it ever goes well. And that’s the point. It should not work as well as it does, but the fact that it does is evidence that God’s at work. When we try in our own strength it’s like trying to hit a golf ball with your eyes closed and one hand tied behind your back, standing on one leg. It’s possible, but nowhere near as good as if we do it right. God’s Spirit helps us to love one another, to accept and forgive one another, to bless and encourage one another, to speak through and to one another. He’s more than a coach (although he does some of that in his spare time) – he is the one who makes it happen.

Heaven preserve us from trying on our own.

Be blessed, be a blessing

Excuses for a bad golf shot…

A fly landed on my ball right just as I hit it.
A squirrel picked up my ball and put it in the bunker.
A squirrel pushed my ball into the water, the good-for-nothing fluffy-tailed tree rats.
After that last shot, I’m just too embarrassed to try and hit the ball.
All the golf schools I liked were too expensive – so I self-taught.
Damn it, have you no etiquette? Please quit breathing when I swing.
Didn’t you hear that sound in the woods during my swing? It sounded like a duck. What’s that smell?
Ever since I made a hole-in-one, I can’t concentrate.
Golf is about etiquette, not playing well.
Golf isn’t fun if it’s competitive, so I don’t try hard.

*juvenile male sniggering commences at mention of ‘bogies’ and continues when looking at a Danish friend’s post on Facebook (in Danish) (Hi Lise) that included the word ‘snot’. Disappointment and anticlimax when I discover that ‘snot’ is the Danish word for ‘snot’.

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