Links Daily Devotional

The Land of Happy

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4, NIV)

Like you, I haven’t seen Brian Harmon play much golf. I don’t know what his typical demeanor is on the course, though Sunday’s broadcast from the Northern Trust Open revealed a seemingly relaxed guy, not the grinding type we see so often on Tour.

But I have to wonder if even Harmon was thinking he was lost in a musical on Sunday afternoon.

On his one side, he was paired with too-long-since-his-last-win Bubba Watson, who had taken grinding out of the equation for 2014, declaring this a personal “year of rejoicing” when he and caddie Ted Scott would focus on the blessing of being able to make a living on the golf course rather than grumbling about all the little things that can go wrong there.

On his other side was even less known Jason Allred. The Oregonian fired 64 on Friday to vault up the leaderboard, then found himself in the penultimate group on Sunday after adding 67 to that on Saturday. Nervous? No way. Allred too was a smiling fool, making par-saving putt after par-saving putt down Riviera’s brutal back-nine stretch.

Talk about your “glee” clubs! Watson and Allred had turned the pressure cooker of a final round on Tour into their own happiest place on earth. And whether Harmon is a true member, or was just being carried along for the day, it sure would be nice to see more groups like this on Tour—competitors committed to their work and relishing it all at the same time.

Watson and Allred speak openly about their faith in Jesus, and Harmon attended a Christian high school in Savannah, Georgia, so all are certainly familiar with Scripture’s injunction to “rejoice in the Lord.” But familiarity with that passage and exercise of it are not the same thing. We are quick to forgive ourselves for our “focus” and the grumpiness it brings out in us. Our view of Philippians 4:12 usually sounds more like this: “Rejoice in the Lord always? Seriously? Again I say, seriously?”

But we make a critical mistake. The injunction unto rejoicing is hardly necessary when we live in the Land of Happy. We don’t need to be charged to enjoy the presence of Jesus when he’s leading us beside still waters and making us to lie down in green pastures. We must take rejoicing seriously precisely because we do not normally live in such place. The world is fallen, we are sinful, our support structures are too often compromised, and you-know-what happens. This is why we must make a practice of rejoicing, why we must remind ourselves that we have been given a light right through this darkness. We have been indwelt with the Holy Spirit. We are absolutely blessed even in the midst of our fiercest challenges.

Jeff Hopper
February 19, 2014
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