Monday I played in a golf tournament to benefit our Senior Adult ministry here at the church. On the 13th hole, a par 3, a guy in my group who we’ll call Ralph since that’s his name, hit a shot that we knew was close to the hole. I hit my shot next, and it too was very close (it looked like it hit the hole from the tee). When we got to the green though, there was only 1 ball near the hole…
…until we looked down into the hole. There was his ball.
He made a hole in one!
It’s one of the rare feats in all of sports, and it’s an exciting event. I was with my brother a few years ago when he also made a hole in one. I’ve been close several times, but I’m still “0″-fer a bunch of par 3′s in my lifetime.
As if a hole in one wasn’t a great accomplishment by itself, this particular hole carried a special prize for a hole in one…a new Chevy truck.
Ralph told us that he is 66 1/2 years old and has never been able to write a “1″ on the scorecard. I don’t know exactly how long he’s played golf, but that’s awesome. He continued to play a game he loved even though he wasn’t able to accomplish something within that game.
A few weeks ago I sat at the Engage Conference and listened to Chris Hodges tell a part of his story. He made the statement
“I’ve been in ministry 27 years and the first 17 I felt like I wasn’t living up to my potential. I just wasn’t accomplishing all that I was supposed too. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I just couldn’t get the traction I was looking for. It wasn’t until we planted “Highlands” 10 years ago, that it all came together.”
(paraphrased from my notes)
In recent Scripture reading I ran across 2 passages in Numbers that represent traps I’m afraid we as Christians fall into sometimes. In Numbers 16 it says,
“Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you must also make yourself a prince over us?”
and in Numbers 32 it says,
“And they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Do not take us across the Jordan.”"
2 things to keep in mind. First, the land they referred to in Numbers 16 as the land of milk and honey was actually Egypt. It was the place of the enslavement. It was not the land of milk and honey of their Promise. It was their past not their future. Second, the land they ask for in Numbers 32 is not the land they’d been given and told to possess, it’s just a piece of ground on their present journey.
If you and I aren’t careful we will look back remembering our past more fondly than we ought or be content to stay in the land of our present because it’s more comfortable than tomorrow’s uncertainty. The problem is that our lives are pointed toward a promised future, and looking back or staying here robs us of “tomorrow” in the new land.
Every shot taken Ralph took before Monday was preparation for the swing that resulted in the prize. Every year of ministry in the first 17 for Hodges set the stage for the “success” of the last 10. What if Ralph gave up golf 3 years ago? What if Chris Hodges never stepped out toward Birmingham to plant Highlands? What would they have missed?
But they kept going.
Why should you keep going?
Because you just don’t know what tomorrow holds.