Links Daily Devotional

Freedom in Trusting God

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32, NASB)

I was recently reading a story in Golf World for December 2011 about Joseph Bramlett. Last season, Bramlett’s first on the PGA Tour, started out with so much hope. But less than one month after earning his PGA Tour card, he shot 75-74 and missed the cut in Tucson and then proceeded to miss three cuts in a row. Bramlett finished the year losing his Tour card, as he made 12 cuts in 25 starts with just two top-25 finishes.

I was interested in some of his comments, which struck close to home. “Sometimes my intensity was possibly too high. I was grinding too hard. Golf isn’t football. I am not going out there and beat someone’s head into the ground. You have to have patience when you play this game.”

I then reflected on my rookie season on the PGA Tour in 1969. It was also in Tucson that year that one of the legends of the game, Ken Venturi, told a group of us rookies, “There must be freedom in your golf game. And always remember, never become too elated over success nor too downcast over failure. Trust in your God-given abilities and stay the course.”

I believe that there is a correlation between the game of golf and our spiritual journeys and beliefs. Today’s verse, quoting Jesus’ own words, states that “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

The truth which makes us free is that we are saved by grace through faith, and not by works or our own effort or more grinding. We are truly free to enjoy the benefits of being a child of the King and the mighty inheritance that goes with that adoption into his family.

A wise theologian once said that all religions of the world are really in only two camps: works or grace. Actually, all are based on works of some kind in order to gain eternity, with the exception of one: Christianity. There is so much freedom in understanding this truth. Our works are a response out of love for what has already been done for us. It is not to earn love or salvation. God wants a relationship, not a performance.

When I became a Christian in 1986, I accepted the grace given me by faith, but I did not comprehend what this all meant. I tried hard to study and listen to tapes and attend church so as to earn favor with God. I wanted him to be proud of me and my decision to trust him. I was like Joseph Bramlett and myself in my Rookie year on Tour; I was grinding. I was trying hard and wanted others to know I was trying hard. Through a process of understanding and loving God more, I began to accept this grace for what it is: a precious gift that needs to be opened and appreciated. That freedom to love God on those terms has made all the difference in the world.

(By the way, the article in Golf World about Joseph Bramlett ended with a story about the well-wishers that followed him last season. They even had T-shirts with the words “Bramlett’s Bunch.” Again I can identify. I had a gallery as well that followed me long ago. They were known as “Randy’s Relatives”—or, on some occasions, only as “Wolff’s Wife.” Go figure!)

Randy Wolff

February 2, 2012

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