Links Daily Devotional

How Great Our Rejoicing

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1, NIV)

Here are words of Jesus that golfers can really understand.

A bad hole may look like this: A sliced drive out of bounds, a heavy approach that lands in the bunker, a bladed chip shot, a three-putt. When such a hole comes our way, and we walk off shaking our head, we may stand on the next tee without a worry. We may say to ourselves, “So much for that. Next hole!” That is, we may invoke forgetfulness and move right along.

Most golfers, over time, become pretty good at such quick dismissals of our own errors. Socially, this may not always be a responsible trait, but it sure works well in terms of helping us move on and make the best of our golf rounds.

And yet there are those days when all it takes is one bad hole to throw us entirely off-kilter. These are the days when our troubles burrow their way into our psyche and shut down everything effective we had hoped to do on the golf course. Suddenly, we find ourselves saying things like, “I am so bad. I cannot hit one ball straight!” (Somewhere on the other side of the world, a sport psychologist is shuddering in her sleep to hear us talk like that!)

Now, certainly Jesus was not saying here that we should steer clear of trouble. Two chapters later, He was recorded to say, “In the world you will have trouble.” There is no getting around difficulty—not in golf, not in life. Even those who shut themselves in at home must deal with aging eyes in the morning and stubbed toes in the night.

In all cases, then, the question must focus elsewhere. Jesus placed the focus on our hearts. If you stubbed your toe tonight and set to mumbling about your stupid muddle-headedness, Jesus would be there, His arm around your shoulder, saying, “My friend, I know how much your toe hurts, but do not let this go to your heart. It is only a small trouble.”

And indeed, a swollen toe, though painful, is normally only a small trouble. We know, however, that Jesus’ words were meant for troubles small and big. And bigger.

When insidious troubles come our way, from the outside or from our own making, we have the same choice as the disciples who first heard Jesus’ words. Will we berate others as though they run the world, or ourselves as though we do? Or will we recognize that we have professed to believe in God (or trust in Him, as the translation may render it), and then really do so, giving Him our cares, our worries, our hearts? Jesus was calling us to that kind of belief, the kind that arises best when times are worst.

Jeff Hopper

October 3, 2011

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