Links Daily Devotional

Strange Doings at Valhalla

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)

If you missed watching the PGA Championship from Valhalla, you missed great drama and some very strange doings.

The drama included amazing up-and-downs from challenging spots under tons of pressure, and a packed leaderboard with incredibly good players. Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, and Rickie Fowler all had or shared the lead with less than nine holes to go. Any of them could have won, and Rory did.

Who wins and who loses is incidental to the striving.The strange doings revolved mostly around the last hole. McIlroy came to the eighteenth tee with a two-stroke lead over Fowler and Mickelson and arrived before they teed off. Normally that means he just waits until they are out of range and then he and his fellow competitor hit their drives. But it was getting dark, and McIlroy wondered aloud if they might play eighteen as a foursome. Uh, no. But thanks for asking.

Why not? Watching it in real time, the general opinion in front of our TV was that Rory should have to wait because “that’s part of the deal for being in the last group.” Luckily for McIlroy, Mickelson and Fowler were kinder than that. They hurried down the fairway, stepped off to the side, and waived up the last group. That wasn’t all that unusual for a case like this, but then they waived them up again after they reached the green! To his credit, McIlroy thanked them publicly and often for doing that, so he clearly knew it was a benefit to him. Would they have done the same thing if they were tied, or even if they were one shot behind instead of two? What would you have done?

This may sound even stranger to you than a foursome on the final hole of major, but God made us to be competitive. Imagery of footraces and other kinds of competition pepper Scripture, and Paul used competition as an illustration at least six times in his writings. But the most applicable choice here is our verse today from Proverbs.

The word compete means “to strive with.” You may play against other golfers (or other businesses), but you are really striving alongside them. The better you compete, the better you will get and the better your fellow competitors will get. Who wins and who loses is incidental to the striving. Everyone who strives to the utmost of their ability and strives with the best competitors they can find wins, because they get better and better. Play with better players and on harder courses and your golf game will improve.

In my walk with Jesus I need to compete, to strive with stronger, more mature believers. I need to strive with writers and speakers who have thought deeply about Scripture. I need to have conversations (perhaps in a Links Fellowship) with brothers and sisters who understand some teaching differently than I do. And I need to strive with Jesus, who said that I must love my enemies and forgive others and not worry about tomorrow. Talk about a challenging course!

So strive with yourself to improve (grow) in your walk with Jesus, and strive with others who will make you be at your best. And if you ever get the chance to wave them up—even if it appears to help only them—do it. Because nobody ever said you couldn’t strive with grace.

Lewis Greer
August 12, 2014
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