Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please God, strengthen me once more.” — Judges 16:28
Before you read this, I have to admit that this is probably the worst application of a Bible verse I have ever used.
Now that that is out of the way . . .
So I’ve been taking golf lessons since the beginning of January. A dozen or so years ago, just before my oldest child was born, I could play the game of golf. I’ve even shot a few rounds in the 60’s. Golf was my absolute favorite topic of conversation, and I took every opportunity to sneak away to play and/or practice.
When my second child was born, obviously things were different at home. I really feel like I missed out on the first years of their lives. Instead of transitioning into being a dad and really helping my wife, you know what I did? Yep, play golf.
On top of playing golf, I had begun to take Christianity very seriously. Looking back, I really was drawing closer and closer to the Lord. I was drawing close enough that I knew He wanted me to cut back on playing golf. I ignored Him. Months later, when my wife confirmed what He had been saying for a while now, I got mad. I didn’t see why I couldn’t do the one thing that I loved to do. You see, golf had become an idol. I cared about it more than I cared about God, more than I cared about Tonya, and now more than I cared about my kids. I would have never actually told you that, but my actions sure proved otherwise.
So, I wouldn’t give it up. I actually justified that I couldn’t give it up (and I had really good reasons). In an attempt to get even better at playing golf, I read a book by my favorite golfer at the time, Ernie Els, and started trying to swing like him. I completely read one part of the book wrong and made a swing change that ended up being a death move for my golf game. After a few weeks or so of practicing wrong, I couldn’t hit a golf ball to save my life. It got so bad that I eventually quit playing golf. I won’t even mention that in an attempt to continue playing . . . I learned to play left-handed.
I had it bad.
Eventually, I could not go back to my old swing and I completely quit playing. After destroying my idol, or God destroying it for me, whichever you prefer, I drew near to Him like never before. I told Him over and over in His presence how sorry I was that I chose a game over Him. I drew near to my wife, and we became as close as we had ever been before. I still repent to this day that I chose golf over her. I never would travel with her for the five years we were married and didn’t have children. I told her that I just liked to stay home, which was true, but the ultimate truth was . . . I wanted to play golf. Now, the days we get to travel somewhere and be alone together are some of the greatest days of my life. The amount of love God has given me for her is just amazing.
One day when I was messing around in the garage, I picked up one of my clubs. I felt God say to me, “You can have it back now.” I was like, “What?” He said, “You can have it back now, it isn’t an idol anymore. It won’t ever hold first place in your heart again.”
So there I was this past Monday in what is called “The Bay.” My instructor puts this fancy stuff on me so he can get all sorts of computer readings and compare my swing to various golf professionals. For the first time in over a decade, I absolutely striped shot after shot for an hour and a half. It was like every sensation came back to me from when I could really play.
Then it happened.
I paused to think just for a moment that years ago I actually valued doing this more than I valued being with God. I thanked Him right then and there. I let Him know that nothing compares to knowing Him. I don’t know how God does this stuff, but I just had this sweet, sweet sense of His Presence right there in the moment, right out of nowhere. It was all I could do to just fight back tears and not have people wonder what in the world was wrong with me. Our band at church Sunday played “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury and I haven’t been able to sing it enough. That song just flooded my mind. “You have been so so good to me.” “You have been so so kind to me.”
I sang it some more.
I shall end this WMD, put my headphones on, and sing it again.