“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” — Philippians 4:12
“As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.” Those are words once uttered by golfing legend Ben Hogan.
Life has often been compared to a round of golf. There are bunkers and water hazards. There’s the fairway — groomed and beckoning. Then there are clusters of trees, high grass and unkempt ground. There’s the clarity of when the ball sits up high, and the challenge of finding it when it doesn’t go the anticipated direction. You know, the hunt through the grass, the trees, the rough.
Different courses present different hazards. It’s all part of the game. One day you might play a bogey-free round, and the next you’re fighting just to get in the clubhouse. The course didn’t change. The clubs didn’t change.
Maybe the weather did? There is always the possibility of inclement weather. If you watched any of the Masters this year — or pretty much any Open Championship ever — you know weather can make for a long, trying, relentlessly challenging round.
Yet, even if the wind isn’t gusting or the rain pelting, some days your score still spirals. The pars become bogies, double-bogies … mulligans, anyone? Your handicap is not the help you hoped for. Stiff. Sore. Tired. Inconsistent and over-analyzing. Frustrated and floundering. It could be any or none of these.
It’s on these days when Hogan’s words come into play: As you walk, you must smell the roses.
The reality is most of us feel good when we drive the green — or simply stay on the fairway. But here’s what is more telling: Who are you in the bunker? Or when you’ve already tried to escape the bunker and yet, there your ball still sits. Therefore, so do you.
In Philippians 4:12, Paul writes, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” To be sure, Paul was writing about challenges much greater than those we face on a golf course. But stay with the metaphor, if you would.
Situational awareness counts. Your ball may sit in the trap, but you don’t want your head in the sand. Let’s be honest: We all like to know what we’re playing for. Yet, make or miss the shot, we don’t often know the outcome of the round.
What we need is a steadiness that surpasses all situations and circumstances. Our mind, our stance and our swing must find a steadiness that doesn’t waver based upon the result. In golf — and life — it comes with an appreciation for the process. It comes with a gratefulness to be in the game. Just because it’s not the round you had hoped for doesn’t mean you lose the appreciation for the ability to play. Gratitude grounds us.
We acknowledge that this may be one round, but it is not the eternal one. We know and trust the God who works all things together for our good — so even when the swing is off, the rain is pelting, and the bunker feels like home, we are gracious with ourselves. We are thankful for the round. We are hopeful for the goodness ahead. We are steady, for we know we are not alone. We have Jesus.
When the unexpected happens, how steady are you?
— Jade McCarthy, host of Sports Spectrum’s “Transformed” podcast
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