Another season of the Golf League drew to a close this week, and as I drove away from our home course for the final time in 2015, I realized that my heart was full of joy.
But here’s the thing: The heart-vibe had nothing to do with my score. In fact, I’d been struggling with the game all season – and my play during the final round turned into a microcosm of the many weeks that had gone just before: Frightening ineptitude early on, particularly with the driver; a few shots that were exquisitely executed; and many mediocre efforts in between.
In short, the golf I played that day was nothing to blog about. But the passing season…that was something altogether different.
It unfolded like a love letter of sorts from God. A reminder of the 15 years I’ve spent in the league: The trophies won. The camaraderie shared. The lamp that the game (and the league) had been unto my feet.
This lamp beckoned me mostly through people. They would become the Light of Christ, piercing through my personal darkness…and a beacon shining through the dry, theoretical Christianity of my youth.
One such light was Vic. I vividly recall the welcome he extended when I was a “newbie” in the league back in 1999 – how he made me feel like one of the gang…and in the process, opened my heart – just a smidge – to the gift of community.
Vic was an instrument of God’s grace on that day. And in the ensuing years, our friendship has blossomed into something much more profound – a bond of brotherhood that runs much deeper than any of the water hazards I encounter out on the course. I did not expect to be blessed in such a way back when I joined the League…but there it is: Proof that God can (and does) re-create me in my recreation.
A few weeks after that first encounter, another Golf League companion took advantage of our scheduled round…to invite me to become an RCIA sponsor. And another ‘community’ door was opened: I was given the chance walk alongside some pretty remarkable people in the years that followed…to see the Holy Spirit alive in the hearts of many of my fellow parishioners. This RCIA work would play no small role in sparking other key parts of my spiritual awakening as well.
So when I connect the dots on my journey…when I recall the incredible blessings I have experienced in the past 15 years…they all lead back in one way or another to Golf League.
A remarkable thing, I thought…as I headed home from the course after our final round last week.
Remarkable, how God knows me well enough…to want to pursue me there – out on the links.
* * *
Or perhaps it’s not so remarkable after all, when I consider the divine promise revealed in Psalm 16:
You will show me the path to life,
Fullness of joys in Your presence,
The delights at Your right hand forever.
I am ever so grateful, Lord, for this gift: To find a bit of You…in the things that delight me.
And to realize that You’ve been there all along, beckoning.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.