Wisdom Devotionals

Keep Swinging

Thursday, March 5, 2020


Romans 7:15

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

 

I don’t have a lot of spare time these days, but when I do, I love playing golf with my two sons. They are both taller than I am now and can they ever crush that little white ball!

If I weren’t in the ministry, I might admit to being envious.  Well, ministry aside . . . I admit it.

Frankly, I’ve never improved over the years to the point where I still don’t quote my life verse (or golf verse) every time I step up to the tee: “The things I want to do, I don’t do, and the things I don’t want to do, I do!”

My golf ball typically takes a couple of lurching bounces before I watch it fall over some embankment and hear that familiar splash.  Who thought it would be a good idea to put a pond in the middle of a golf course anyway?!

Again—if I weren’t a pastor . . . 

Here’s the funny part, though: after watching my ball land in some murky abyss, I start giving advice. As soon as one of my sons steps up to the tee, I instruct, “Keep your head down . . . keep that arm straight.”  As if I’ve earned the right to coach anybody! 

I suppose the only reason my sons politely listen is because I’m paying for the round.

Isn’t it so true that knowing what to do is not the same thing as doing what you should do? I know (in theory, at least) how to hit a golf ball straight as an arrow; I know the formula for posture and form.  But when it comes to actually hitting the ball, I can throw all my knowledge out the window . . . or into the pond.

As Christians, we can sometimes think that if we just knew better, we would be better . . . you know—more spiritual.  So we search for quick-fix bestsellers for our problems: “The Secret to Christian Living” or “Five Effective Steps to Powerful Prayer” or maybe attend a seminar that promises complete sanctification by day’s end on Saturday.

We get caught up in thinking,  “If I could just learn that principle or take that study or read that book, I’d master my life of holy commitment.”

Perhaps it’s time we learned a lesson from a man who knew more than any other Christian. If there ever was someone whose life was worth emulating, it is the Apostle Paul.

But reading chapter seven of his letter to the Romans, you’ll discover that he, too, struggled with sin and failure.  Yes, Paul knew the answers to the questions, but all his knowing didn’t eliminate the battle he faced in living.  He wasn’t released from wrestling against the same things that you and I battle every day.  Even the Apostle Paul knew what it was to fail.

Don’t misunderstand the point. Paul wasn’t giving us a green light to sin.  He emphatically reminds us later of our responsibility.  But he was encouraging us to keep swinging . . . to stay in the game . . . not to give up just because we’ve sent another golf ball sailing into the woods. 

The truth is, no one has it all together just yet.  That day of glory is yet future.  And Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is the only player who ever shot a perfect round  . . . fortunately He’s given us His scorecard!

Prayer Point: God’s strength to persevere every day is a blessing we often take for granted—perhaps even take advantage of. Take time today to thank Him for His mercies that are new every morning, every evening, and every second that comes in between.

Extra Refreshment: Read Romans 7-8:1 and notice that Paul doesn’t leave us wallowing in failure—he leads us to our confidence in victory . . . through Jesus Christ our Lord.