We started our round on Hole #7 in the League Finale event – and what a curious blessing that turned out to be.
This hole assignment made us the “lead foursome” on the course, with all other groups situated on the tee boxes behind us for a “shotgun start” to the tourney.
It meant that when we approached the “closest-to-the-pin” and “longest drive” holes, we had only ourselves to beat…in order to etch our names on the contest scorecards.
I took full advantage of the lark – knowing full well that my decent shots on two different holes would almost certainly be bettered…by the much-better golfers following behind. It was a bright spot in my day…an unmerited burnish, taking a bit of the sting off an otherwise tough season out on the links.
But ain’t it funny how quickly envy can creep in…and tarnish even the simple graces in our lives?
I thought about that at the conclusion of our round, as I gazed upon the League Trophy sparkling in the late-summer sunshine.
My team was never in the running this season…so I knew we wouldn’t be taking home the prize (or the prize money).
Although I played pretty well on this day – probably my best round of the year – my heart, I noticed, was filled with regrets…about what-might-have-been. One day’s grace seemed somehow insufficient to me. I caught myself wanting more-more-more.
Envy. It’s the Devil’s workshop – a noisy place that can easily drown out the Holy One’s voice. It can create a chasm…separating us from the knowledge of God’s love for us, in this very moment.
Perhaps that’s the lesson Jesus has in mind for us when he tells the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus seems to have nothing that would make us envious: “Dogs used to even come and lick his sores…”
But for all he doesn’t have, Lazarus does still seem to be able to hear the gentle echoes of God’s goodness in his life. And in the end, that may turn out to be the greatest gift of all.
Lazarus is born with a grateful heart…while all too often, I wallow in blindness…often unable to see, or fully appreciate, the “shotgun start” I’ve been given in life.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.