Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional: Friday, October 18, 2019

“Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise…” — Ephesians 5:15

Don’t Miss the Cut

I don’t watch golf regularly on TV throughout the PGA Tour season, but each year I set aside a ridiculous number of hours in my schedule to indulge in the Masters Tournament. After all, it’s “a tradition unlike any other.”

If you happened to be watching on Masters Thursday back in 2018, you may have witnessed Sergio Garcia’s monumental collapse at the par-5 15th hole. Sergio, who was the defending champion, hit four balls that found their way into the water. Each of the balls he struck on his approach shot landed within about 10 feet of the flagstick. But, at Augusta National, a well-struck ball that lands on the green, and even close to the hole, can still often spell disaster if it doesn’t land in the precise area needed to give the player a birdie or eagle opportunity, much less to just hold the green. Garcia wound up with a score of 13 on the hole, which essentially ended his tournament. One bad hole out of 36 cost him an opportunity to play on the weekend.

I’ve played golf enough to know how one awful hole can ruin an otherwise decent round. I could be making pars and bogeys (for me, that is solid play), and one errant tee shot or thinly struck short iron would derail my round. A snowman is never good on the golf course (that is an 8 on one hole, for those of you who may not play). Likewise, if I start out with a triple-bogey on the first hole, I’ve dug myself a huge hole that will take several birdies to overcome.

You know, life can play out in a very similar fashion. We can be cruising along, doing great things — building relationships, investing in others, loving our families, making huge strides professionally — and one poor decision can wipe it out. Generally speaking, one bad break or a single misstep doesn’t cause tremendous devastation in our lives. But it can happen, especially if we don’t have guardrails in place.

I am a huge proponent of establishing boundaries. When you establish boundaries, you define what is in fair play as well as what is foul territory. You can see when you get too close to the line, and if you hit the guardrail or cross the line, you may get a bump or dent that will help you course-correct.

Financially, this can be setting a strict spending limit and writing down each and every expense on paper to hold yourself accountable. When it comes to your health, it can be using an app or a chart to record all your physical activity, as well as what you eat. If you have lust issues, it could mean getting an accountability partner or using software or apps to help protect you. If you are a workaholic, you may need to literally add deadlines to complete your work daily, as well as allocating family time to your weekly schedule.

There are numerous verses in the Bible that implore us to put this into practice. The Book of Proverbs alone includes copious amounts of wisdom about protecting our hearts and avoiding the road to disaster. Paul, author of most of the New Testament, also encourages us to take precautions to safeguard ourselves from attack:

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” — Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)

In the end, it’s so easy for us to find ourselves in a bind when we haven’t planned ahead. Remember, when you accept Jesus as your Savior, the enemy immediately puts a target on you. He wants to steal, kill and destroy. And we can ward off these attacks many times when we put up walls in advance to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Now, if you’ll hand me my 9-iron, I’d like to see if I can knock my Titleist Pro-V up on the green and walk away with a score lower than Sergio’s.

— C.A. Phillips, NorthStar Church, Kennesaw, Ga.

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