I quite like golf. I am not a good golfer, but I do quite like golf.
Mark Twain once said that “…golf was a good walk ruined”. I think he was wrong, though I do have to admit that in my case golf is a good walk made 2-3 times longer.
Not that long ago, I went to the local driving range. I got my basket of balls and went to a booth as close to the centre of the range as I could–my thinking here is simply that I rarely hit the ball in a straight line so being in the centre gives me the best chance of actually hitting the range whether I hook it or slice it. They do say that it is not the winning that matters but the taking part, when it comes to golf that really has become my personal mantra.
In the booth next to me was an older gent. It did not take me long to realise that he was a good golfer. In the time it took me to spray the range with golf balls like I was using a machine gun, he maybe hit one or two balls that glided through the air and hit his intended flag points every time.
At first I was a bit annoyed with him, I just thought he was a bit smug, obviously had too much time on his hands or he had made a career out of board meetings on the fairways over many years. Not that this would always necessarily be a bad thing.
But then, he turned to me, smiled and said hello. He complimented me on the distance I was able to achieve and then said “…and you can hit those balls really fast”. That actually made me laugh, I clearly knew that it was not as much of a compliment as it might have sounded at first.
What happened from there was that this guy showed his heart. He actually wanted to help me become better, he wanted to show me ways in which I could get the ball to land where I intended it to land. The following is a brief summation of what he said:
“Before you ever hit the ball you need to prepare yourself for the outcome you want to see happen. Don’t get obsessed with just hitting the ball, but take in your surroundings. Understanding the environment is vital. Is it windy or overcast? Is the terrain flat or undulating? All these factors you already know about, but you are not being attentive to them. You focus too much on making sure you hit the ball fair and square. Golf is a game of finesse, feeling and intelligence. The success rate of your shots will only ever be as good as your understanding of your environment and your preparation before taking each shot”.
It reminded me of something that I read a couple of years ago about prayer. The writer made a big deal out of “there is a way things work”. In life, in sport, in prayer, in everything there is a way things work. I realise that in lots of ways in life, I am spraying golf balls all over the range. I tend to think that the harder I hit and the more of them I hit means the more successful I will be.
The problem with that is that I maybe hit one or two decent balls out of ten and the rest are totally wasted effort.
I told this guy that he had really helped me, not so much with golf but with life. I went on to say that I work for a Christian ministry and that in the same way as preparing for a shot in golf is vitally important, so it vitally important to prepare well in life and ministry. He was slightly blown away by our vision to lead a million men to Christ. He was even more blown away by the CVM Cymru vision to see the nation of Wales come back to Christ! But I think he was chuffed that he had helped me think a little bit clearer.
The conversation ended there, but I do think that I will be going back to the driving range again very soon.
I left that golf range reminded once again that ALL of life is a gift, and God speaks to us in the most unlikely moments of our days. At CVM, we love the church, we are passionate about seeing the church grow. But what if there are times when God’s Cathedral looks more like a golf driving range than a one thousand year old ecclesiastical building?
Just a thought ..