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Chappy’s corner “A great day for golf?”

In golf there are terms like “par, birdie, and slice”, but one term I like is “mulligan”.  A mulligan is an extra stroke allowed in golf after a poor shot and is not counted on the scorecard.  It is not allowed in professional golf, but many amateurs allow it.”

 

Pastor Fred seldom needed a mulligan, and on this Saturday he played his best round of golf all season, but tomorrow was the last day the course would be open. Since it was Sunday, he would not be able to play.  But that Sunday morning the sun was shining brightly and Fred decided to skip church and go golfing. He began by calling his head elder and saying “Hey I woke up feeling sick today, so if you could cover for me that would be great. The sermon is on the pulpit and I plan to go back to bed.” The elder agreed and as soon as the phone call was over, Fred raced to his car and drove to the golf course. As he went he saw storm clouds brewing and he thought, “Oh, God you are going to punish me. It’s going to rain and I won’t get to play.”  But there was no storm, so Fred arrived and started playing golf. The first nine holes went great, but then another storm cloud appeared and he heard thunder, and he said, “Oh, God you are going to punish me. It’s going to rain and I won’t get to play.” But no rain fell, so kept on playing.  As he came to the 18th hole which was a simple par 3, Pastor Fred was excited. He was playing his best game and if he shot par on this hole, he would have the best game of his life.  At that very moment all kinds of dark clouds formed and there was even a flash of lighting.  Fred thought, “Oh, God you are going to punish me. It’s going to rain and I won’t get to finish this game.” But no rain fell, so Fred hit his drive and miraculously the ball landed on the green and rolled into the cup for a hole in one. Fred was ecstatic and shouted, “Oh, God I thought you were mad at me, but I just got a hole in one.  A hole in one, that is amazing.”  At that moment a voice like thunder spoke from the cloud and it said, “And who are you going to tell?”

 

When we do something we shouldn’t do, we normally want to keep it hidden from others.  We don’t want others to know our faults or as some say, “our dirty laundry”.  One reason for that is because we are afraid that we will suffer for what we have done.  So we try to cover it up. Sometimes we can keep it hidden, but with hidden cameras keeping things hidden from others is hard to do.  The recent videos of beatings being done by people means we can’t keep things hidden, especially from God. 

 

God knows everything, and like Fred we tend to think that God is going to punish us for what we did.  In fact many religions are based on that teaching. They teach that if you do something wrong, God is going to punish you. For them religion is like being on parole. One mistake and you’re going to get it.  People either live in fear of God, or they live as if there is no hope. As one guy stated, “I figure I’m going to hell anyways, so might as well enjoy myself while I can”. 

 The Scriptures reveal a different picture of God.  God certainly hates sin and He knows that we are sinners. As the Bible states, “there is no distinction:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  The Bible is full of stories of people who failed to do the right thing and the judgment for sin is eternal punishment. But instead of being sent to Hell for eternity, God provides a way for them and us to have eternal life with God. That way is Jesus.  Jesus came to save sinners and He did it by his death on the cross.  God doesn’t punish us for our sins; Jesus suffered that punishment for us. The Bible states, But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him,   and by his wounds we are healed.  Instead of punishing us, God forgives us because of Jesus. 

Now we may still suffer some consequences for our sins.  A cheating spouse may end up with a broken marriage, but there is still forgiveness for them. A drunk driver may go to prison for a hit and run, but there is forgiveness for him. A thief may end up in jail but there is forgiveness for him.  Suffering in life, doesn’t mean God is getting even with us for something we did.  Instead God invites us to turn from our wrongs and look to him for forgiveness.  That’s called repentance.  In the military we call it “an about face” and in the game of golf we call it a mulligan.  God is all about mulligans!

That’s just my thoughts from this corner of South Dakota, the land of numerous golf courses!