Links Daily Devotional

A True Fix

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…. (Hebrews 12:1, 2a, NIV)

I don’t think God actually gave me the chipping yips—I’m pretty sure it was the devil—but God has used that malady for all kinds of good in my game and in my life.

The yips, that involuntary flick of a wrist or jerky movement just before impact, can show up in almost any part of golf, including putting. Bernhard Langer, who is both my brother in Christ and my brother in experiencing the yips, has overcome putting yips at least twice, perhaps three times, and for 2012 was sixth best in putts per round on the Champions Tour. So victory can be had, but not without effort, and that is the second lesson I learned. Empathy was the first.

When I knew (and admitted—a big step in recovery!) I had the chipping yips, I tried every mechanical method I could find. Want to know anything about chipping technique? I’m your man. Want to know if a different brand or loft of club can help? Ask me. Curious about whether chipping with your eyes shut is viable? Drop me a line. The third lesson I learned is that Band-aids can work for a while, but like Band-aids in real life, they don’t stick forever.

Mechanics was not the answer, focus was. The more I thought about how to chip, the less likely I was to hit a quality shot. Getting your mind tied up in a knot of “do this” and “don’t do this” will make any golf shot challenging, and it will make a shot that requires feel and touch impossible.

The same thing is true for living your life. I’m a fan of Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps. First published in 1897, the book popularized the question, “What would Jesus do?” But when that question leads to thinking about mechanics in real-time situations, the result may be the Christian yips.

Knowing my chipping woes were mental, I finally stopped thinking technique and started thinking target. If I could focus on where I wanted the ball to land and trust my practice and experience, I could chip. The same thing is true in my life. When I get into a challenging situation in life now, I simply focus on Jesus. It isn’t about “do this” or “don’t do that,” it is about where my attention is. I’ve learned over the years that if I fix my eyes on Jesus, troubles and temptations—not unlike the accusers of the woman taken in adultery—often just disappear. Even when they don’t, having my focus on Jesus makes dealing with difficulties easier because I know that I am not alone.

One other parallel is worth noting. Hebrews 11 names many of the “great cloud of witnesses” spoken of in verse 1 above. The author of Hebrews has called our attention to them, and we should look at them and emulate them in their faith. But we are to focus (fix our eyes) not on them but on Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of our faith.

Just as I should learn from the masters of the short game, I should learn from Abraham and Joseph and Moses about faith. But in real life it will be my shot and I get to hit it, and it will be my challenge and I get to face it. I can face it best not by looking at it or even at faithful Abraham, but by looking to—by fixing my eyes on—Jesus. May your focus, in golf and in life, always be on the right target.

Lewis Greer

January 29, 2013

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