Links Daily Devotional

‘The Secret Is in the Dirt’

The people of Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him—those who had personally experienced all that the Lord had done for Israel. (Joshua 24:31, NLT)

I can’t show you the data to prove it, but I will dare to bet that no other golfer’s swing is as studied and analyzed as that of Ben Hogan. Personally, I am fascinated by his swing. But even more than the beauty of the motion, I am in awe of his intrinsic and complete understanding of each and every element of it. There are plenty of great golf instructors out there, but if I could have any one person’s applicable knowledge of the golf swing, it would be Hogan’s. He proved his mastery by his ability to apply it to his own game and despite not having a great short game was one of the best players the game has ever seen. This master of the swing taught us so much of his knowledge in his book, Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, but it is well known that he kept one significant secret to himself. “The secret is in the dirt,” he claimed.

Golf instructors and swing enthusiasts love to debate and speculate what Ben Hogan’s secret was. Some say it had to do with his wrist action, others believe it was his weight transfer, while I choose to believe it was something more general. I believe he was referring to his experience. I believe that after he had established his fundamentals, the remainder of his practice was about learning his tendencies through continuous repetition, while trying to never stray from what he learned was true for his swing. He understood physics and knew that the shots didn’t lie; the more he practiced, the more he would learn about himself and the right way for him to swing in competition.

One of the best Hogan stories I’ve ever read described his first and only trip across the pond to play Carnoustie, where he won the 1953 British Open. The Scots still talk about how he played the 490-yard sixth hole like nobody else ever did: hitting his tee shot in all four rounds down the left side into the narrow gap between the fairway bunkers and an out-of-bounds fence because, as he explained, “it’s the best place to open up the green.” That takes a type of confidence that I definitely don’t have in my swing!

Our spiritual lives can learn from Hogan’s approach to his golf swing; we should first apply the fundamental truths that God has laid out for us in His word, but then we must walk with Him and learn from our experiences with Him to truly grow in our confidence in Him. The type of faith God wants us to have cannot be found completely in the church pew on Sunday or these devotionals every morning. Rather, the type of faith that God wants us to have is tried and true and experienced on front lines of life, and it resembles that of the Israelites in Joshua 24:31. They served the Lord faithfully simply because they had experienced Him over a long period of dependence.

If you don’t have the type of faith you wish you had, don’t beat yourself up over it. I would just encourage you to “get out of the boat” and depend on God more. Watch Him deliver and your faith will increase. However, if we sit back and just simply ask for and wait on more faith, we may never “find it in the dirt.”

Josh Nelson

October 20, 2011

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