Links Daily Devotional

The Winning Attitude, Part 5

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18, KJV)

Doug Sanders. I never wanted to beat anyone more than I did him that day.

I hit my 4-wood into the heart of the eighteenth green and took a deep breath. The air tasted sweeter than fresh-cut fruit. It was a perfect day, about 75 degrees, and the sky was a circle of powder blue at the Mexico City Country Club in Mexico’s capital city. I looked over at Doug, who was in the right rough then back at the green. The pin on eighteen was tucked in the right back corner. He’ll need a birdie to square the match, I thought. I’m in perfect shape to hoist the noose and send him back to the States empty.

Doug was popular among some, but not me. He was boisterous, showy, and egotistical, though one of the top five amateurs in the country. But his character? It was everything I didn’t like. In him, and probably in myself.

I’d fought back from two down to one up. Doug Sanders is going down right here.

He cut his wood shot out of the light rough and sent it right at the flag. I eyed his ball as it carried over the bunker, but I couldn’t tell if it stayed on the green.

When we got to the green, his ball sat three feet from the hole.

“Good shot,” I managed to say as we walked onto the green.

I missed.

Doug dropped his putt.

Now sudden death.

On the second hole, I had him again. He was putting for a par from about 40 feet. I had a birdie putt from 20 feet. He holed it and I missed. Again on the fourth extra hole, he got in trouble. He had a 20-footer for a par and holed it again. On the sixth extra hole I bogeyed.

Doug won.

And the next day he won the National Amateur Golf Championship.

I couldn’t get away from the course soon enough after that sixth playoff hole. I hurried back to my motel and threw myself on the bed. I wept for what seemed like hours.

Have you ever felt a loss that brought you to tears, even depression?

Oswald Chambers, in his February 17 devotion, wrote: “If we were never depressed we’d not be alive…. only material things don’t suffer depression. If human beings were not capable of depression we’d have no capacity for happiness…”

King David felt such depression. He wrote, “The waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire… I am weary with my crying out” (Psalm 69:1-3, ESV).

Then later in that same writing, his spirit seemed elevated, “I will praise the name of the Lord with Psalms, I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord…” (v. 30).

One of the most powerful weapons we have as followers of Jesus Christ is that of praise and thanksgiving. Most of us know we are to give thanks in everything as commanded in 1 Thessalonians 1:18 and other places in scripture. But few people associate this verse with the preceding one. When Paul wrote his letter to his friends in that little town of Thessalonica, it was just that: a letter. No chapters and verses. Not even paragraphs. First Thessalonians 5:17 and 18 belong together for the simple reason that they belong together.

Do you know what verse 17 says? It’s only three words:

“Pray without ceasing.”

God has mandated us to pray without ceasing and give thanks in everything because, “this is the will of God for us.”

David stepped out of depression by action. Action of praise and thanksgiving.

We are to pray constantly. Literally, “with the frequency of a hacking cough.”

If you do not have such a habit, start today. Write down seven words, Pray without ceasing…in everything give thanks, in your phone or on a small card to carry in your wallet. Write them down on the mirror where you first begin the day. Begin immediately to thank God for every blessing you can think of. For the breath you breathe. Your sight. Your taste. Your sense of feeling. And your capacity to hear. All your senses.

Thank him for your relationships. One at a time.

Thank him for what he’s done for you.

There are thousands of things to give thanks for. Throughout the day, give thanks for little things and larger things. For everything good and not-so-good. Do it from today until June 30. Whether you ever feel depressed, or tend to depression, put these seven words to memory and practice them. Over that time, you’ll make for yourself a habit that will pull you through the days ahead when you may feel, with David, that the “waters have come up to my neck…I am sinking in deep mire… and weary with crying…”

Jim Hiskey

April 21, 2013

Copyright 2013 Links Players International

The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.