‘Ace’ rhymes with ‘grace’…or so I was reminded earlier this week, when my ‘baby brother’ Phil carded a hole-in-one at Franklin County Country Club.
I’m pleased as punch for him. I’m also jealous as hell.
Jealous, especially given the fact that Phil’s noteworthy feat occurred just a few days after I’d recorded a personal best for a 9-hole match at my home course.
Somehow, though, my ‘low-net 30’ doesn’t seem to conjure the same sizzle as my sibling’s singleton. This, despite the fact that I worked pretty hard to go-low last week. That’s always the way with my golf game: It’s always a grind, rarely better than bogey – often more like work than play.
In fact, through the years, I’ve probably played five times as many rounds as Phil. Perhaps even ten times as many rounds. But practice doesn’t make perfect (at least not in my case): I’ve never really even sniffed a hole-in-one.
Then somehow, Phil steps up and makes perfection look easy – even beautiful – on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
As I contemplate his accomplishment, as well as my own, I’m struck by how both deeds can teach us about grace, about the ways in which God chooses to work in the world.
Sometimes, grace simply happens – a bolt out of the blue, unlikely as a hole-in-one. Other times, grace seems to require our cooperation…our faithful attention to the daily grind, a focused effort to make the most of our demonstrably limited skills.
In the familiar passage from the Gospel according to Matthew, Christ reveals both these aspects of grace:
Jesus said to his disciples… ‘You are the light of the world.’
That sounds a bit like unearned, unmerited brilliance. But it comes with a measure of responsibility, too.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.’
In other words, our ‘glow’ comes with a ‘go.’ Rejoice in that bolt-out-of-the-blue, but let’s not be blinded by it. Let’s not hide the light we’ve been given. Keep grinding: There’s work to be done.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.