For A Golfer

For a Golfer ~ One Hole at a Time Philippians 3:12-14

funeral.sermon.golfer.jpgI hadn't been playing golf long when Dave first took me out on the course. As I learned the game, I struggled with thinking too much. There are so many aspects of the golf swing - head down, elbow in, left arm through, pivot and turn, squared shoulders, etc. - that it's easy to forget you're there to hit the ball. It's so easy to get bogged down in the details. 

So there I was, hitting the ball, more often than not, perpendicular to its intended course. Non-pastoral words and expressions formed in my head. Dave was leaning against the cart, watching me implode, and simply said, "Just remember, Pastor: One shot at a time, one hole at a time."

That's exactly how Dave lived his life - staying in the moment and always being present to the people and situations around him. At church, Dave took time simply to be with visitors, not rushing out the door after services. He was very thoughtful in meetings, focusing on what or who was in front of him. 

If you've ever watched Tiger Woods play golf, you'll notice he embodies this philosophy. When he hits a bad shot, he'll grimace and mutter something. But in a matter of seconds he moves on to the next shot, which usually lands close to the hole to save par. It's an amazing level of focus and self-control. 

Watching that kind of focus and control in a person's spiritual life is no less amazing. When each of us was with Dave, we had his full attention. That's a rare gift but a powerful way of living and serving others.

The apostle Paul also was a man of one focus. He focused on following, submitting to and glorifying Jesus. That focus gave him passion and purpose. The great theologians and saints had that same focus. Remember Paul's words from Philippians 3: "Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."

Dave's faith was more important to him than golf, but he approached both pursuits the same way. He always was looking to the big picture. Today he'd want us to do the same.

Death brings many distractions and details, and our thoughts can become confused and frustrated by our depth of grief. We feel like our lives have been scattered and lost like so many errant tee shots. In these moments, Dave's advice - and Paul's - can be so helpful: One day at a time, one shot at a time, one hole at a time.