October 11, 2013

Beauty and the Beast is a favorite fairy tale for children. It was penned by the French author, Gabrielle-Suzanne, Barbot de Villeneuve, in 1740. Certainly it is a story that spans the interests of time; just like golf!

Golf, as tradition has it, was started in the 1200’s. The first known account of golf like game being played was on February 26, 1297. Today, golf is one of the most popular sports on the planet and arguably one of the most prolific; bringing in a constant stream of new players and the cash that flows from their interest in the game.

What is the relationship between the game of golf and the fairy tale; Beauty and the Beast? Simple – they both offer the dream that one can fall in love with a monster, who will soon transform into your lover!

Silly notion, I say.

I just finished playing my second round of golf for the year. It will probably be my last for 2013. Why? Because, I don’t have the time, talent or treasure to play more. Yet each time I go out to play a round of golf, I am seduced by the beauty before being eaten alive by the beast.

Do you know what I mean?

Take last week, for example. It was the best day of the year. A cool 63 degrees met us at 7am with clear skies and dry conditions. The course was lush green and perfectly manicured. The water hazards a sparking sky blue, the sun, golden with rods of orange slayed through the clouds as it arose from its sleep. It was in a word, gorgeous – the course got me again; it was a beauty.

Then I teed off. I played pretty good for me, but…

A great drive was too often followed by an errant 90 degree shot that toasted its failure with a splash in the creek. Ka-plush!

By days end, sweaty, 6 or 7 lost balls and another round well above par and I realized again, I was eaten, by the beast. It won, I didn’t; except… Except the camaraderie I enjoyed with three other good buddies was worth every lost ball, and every frustrated shot that didn’t do what I wanted. The time out there, in God’s creation with three of His best men, was nothing short of, well, beautiful!

And that is just how God intends for friends and fellowship to be. Relationships are where it is at, not the score.

Oh, I know, that isn’t how guys are wired, I know. But after 6 long decades on the planet, I am beginning to learn that the men I know and enjoy is the measurement of success when I play golf, not the score, not the self-focus while I try to lower my handicap.

And I am learning that it needs to be that way. Too many times my best efforts result in my worst outcomes. Life, like golf, is not only hard, it has a way of humbling you, a way of eating you alive, when you are just trying to enjoy a simple day of work, family; or golf.

Life can be a beat down. And try as we might, to beat it, often the beautiful world, becomes a monster that takes us away from success and scares us with its merciless hazards.

This is why the bible presents relationships and fellowship as a key ingredient in a believer’s life. God knew we would all have times of frustration, fatigue and downright failure, where we would get eaten by the beast – Satan. This is why He not only forewarns us about the dark monster of life but declares that if we persevere, we shall overcome and succeed. Note specifically God reminder from the Apostle Peter’s first letter, chapter 5…

8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil (Satan), prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

And this is why the author of the letter to the Hebrews encourages us with similar words, in chapter 10…

24… let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.(as you experience difficult times and circumstances).

Yes, life has its beauty – creation, family, health, work, homes, and country. But it has its ugly monsters too. The only way to enjoy the first, without being destroyed by the second, is by maintaining our faith in our Wonderful God and remain in fellowship with his supporting people.

Life and golf are indeed the same – the only score that really matters is not if you played your best but the company you keep while playing. God and good friends will beat the monster, Satan, every time.

Jim C

Note: Scripture parenthesis added for clarification