Devotional: August 12th
First tee jitters. You've just stepped to the first tee. You're stiff. Your last round of golf was not a good one with the driver. You were hitting your tee shots like a radical Republican; everything was far right. But the course was one that allowed you to stray right and not be punished. Now you're on another course. Twenty yards right of the fairway you see them. They stand there silently, challenging you with their presence, warning you that beyond them is the death of your score. They are the white out-of-bounds stakes.
Deeply ingrained in your thoughts is the last rounds predominate tee shot. You make that first pass at the ball. The swing felt good. You made solid contact. Then you watch in horror as your ball takes a hard right turn and waves at those white specters of doom as it passes over them. "That's out," says a playing partner very matter-of-factly. Drat. Out-of-bounds. Penalty? Stroke and distance. That means you have to hit the tee shot again. You have to hit the tee shot again as your third stroke.
Now the pressure builds. What's the only way you can be certain to escape hitting the ball out again? Adjust your grip? Change your stance? Hit something other than the driver? How about walk away from the game and never play it again? I know, you want to keep playing. You finally decide to aim as far left as you safely can, hoping that, if you hit it straight this time, you won't be arrested for manslaughter for the death of the guy two fairways over. Such is life when you can't hit the big stick, the driver.
How about it? How many times have you teed it up in life and watched as something went horribly wrong? Then you tried to correct it and the same thing happened again. You've just gone out-of-bounds with God. You just committed a sin. You didn't want to, you didn't mean to; it just happened because things got a little out of control. There are many golf bags sitting silently in garages, closets and attics as reminders that the game is just not meant to be played by their owner. In life, there are some things we just shouldn't try. There are other facets of life for us that are fulfilling without that one area that leaves us broken and hurt in sin.
A number of years ago an old man sitting on the streets of Cortland, New York, told me the most profound truth I ever heard. "It's hard to sin if you're always involved in good works." The very essence of one of my favorite passages, and the scariest. "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." James 4:17 Doing good, doing the right thing, is never out-of-bounds.
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