Devotional: September 16th
Three other times this year Phil Mickelson performed a magic act; he disappeared from contention in the major championships of the Professional Golfers Association. Three times he not only failed to win but was not even a factor. Three times he merely showed up without really showing up. The Masters, the U. S. Open and the British Open all came and went without Mickelson even putting up a fight. Yesterday he walked off the eighteenth green at the Baltusrol Club near Springfield, New Jersey, as this year's winner of the PGA Championship.
He did it by leading all four rounds. Now, before you heap accolades on him for a wire to wire finish, you must know that he was only the outright leader for two of those four rounds. The other two he shared the lead with someone else. This was not a blowout and cruise where he built a huge lead and then just played well enough to maintain a one stroke victory in spite of a double bogey on the last hole. Mickelson, as well as everyone else, found out why Baltusrol has been the venue for a number of major golf championships.
At Baltusrol it's not how well you can play golf but how well you can hold onto your emotions while doing so. Over the final round, which had to be contested over two days due to weather, Phil Mickelson had to deal with his emotions on several occasions. Following his second round, in which he shot a 65 to take a twelve stroke lead over Tiger Woods, he had the elation of everyone saying it was his championship to win. And it was. But, over the next two rounds, Mickelson actually lost the lead a number of times. When he finished the last hole yesterday with a one stroke victory following a dramatic birdie he finally sealed the deal in spite of the fact that Tiger Woods had made up ten strokes on him in the course of two days.
When the biggest dog in the pack is chasing you sometimes the only thing you can do is stay just ahead of him and hope that you get where you're headed before he does. So what big dog are you trying to stay ahead of? Financial problems? Work related stress? Marital difficulties? Child rearing struggles? Or are you like the millions of us who have proclaimed Jesus as Lord and now must prove it every day by staying ahead of the big dog that wants to tear us apart?
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." 1 Peter 5:8, 9 Yesterday morning the only lead that truly counted was when Phil Mickelson rolled in that two foot birdie putt on the eighteenth hole. Satan may catch up to us from time to time. When Jesus returns we must not be found in Satan's grasp but ready for Jesus' arms.
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