Links Daily Devotional

Learning Together

…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25, NASB)

“Golf is so hard,” said my friend Tom, “that you just can’t learn it alone.”

Tom knew whereof he spoke, because he has been and still is an extraordinarily good golfer. He had just given me an impromptu lesson, pointing out a flaw in my setup that he had noticed in our round the day before and suggesting a change. We saw an immediate improvement in my ball striking. His statement came in response to my saying “thank you” for about the seventeenth time.

His words were humble and simple and true. And my immediate thought was, “There’s another way that golf and following Jesus are the same. You really can’t learn them alone.”

Tom went on to tell me that when he was getting ready to go on a “golf journey” years ago to find out how good he could be against the best competition he could find. He first went to his friend Jim and asked him to help him with his golf game, then he went to his friend David and asked him to help him with his mental approach. They both said yes, and he said it made a tremendous difference. He went from being a very good player with about a 2 handicap to being a +3.

Those five handicap points are much harder ground to cover than 15 to 10, or even 10 to 5, which is plenty hard. Of course, Tom practiced long and diligently, and he started with a solid pedigree in junior and collegiate golf. He also had an extra advantage, he told me, in a wife who was a great encourager.

If we are to get to single digits—or even become plus-handicap players—in following Jesus, we need help from people who have experience and expertise and can teach us a better way (“A wise man will hear and increase in learning and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,” Proverbs 1:5). We need encouragement (“Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord,” Acts 11:23). And we need to dedicate ourselves to being the best we can be (“…but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified,” 1 Corinthians 9:27).

There is one other important ingredient in this equation, and that is desire. You may think of desire as a starting point, and it often is, but the desire must remain alive through challenges, or there will be no endurance. In fact, a desire to follow Jesus will cause challenges: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

By the way, my friend Tom (Flory) was a co-founder in 1980 of Links Players along with his friend Jim (Hiskey), who played on the PGA Tour. Tom’s friend David (Cook) is recognized as one of the leading sports psychologists in the country and is the author of Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia. Tom reached as high as number five in the country in the senior amateur rankings and is still winning tournaments today.

Who are your Jims and Davids as you grow in your faith? Who encourages you? And for whom do you fill any of those roles? Personally I am ever more thankful for Links Fellowships, places where I can both learn and teach, where I can encourage and be encouraged, and where I am assured that I am not alone.

Lewis Greer
April 24, 2014
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