Links Daily Devotional

(Im)practical

Therefore stand in awe of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:7b, NIV)

There are two ways to approach the game of golf.

We may be pragmatists, bent on learning all the details of better play. Teach me the right swing positions, give me a good “trigger,” show me how to spin it from the bunker, line me up to make my putts. Approach the game like this, and you will likely score well.

Or we may instead be aesthetics, appreciating the beauties of the game. Reveal to me the course in twinkling dew of the morning, invite me into the laughter of friends engaged in the battle of banter, let me gawk at the iron shot that ends with the ball spinning into the hole for eagle. Come to the game in this way, and you will likely enjoy it well.

Of course, these two approaches are not mutually exclusive. I’ve enjoyed the game with a new friend several times in the past year, and I find him to be the quintessential synthesist when it comes to melding excellent play and deep appreciation for the entire experience. I’d like to move my own mindset somewhere closer to his!

Many people study the Bible looking for its practical instruction. For them, the Scriptures are a guidebook, revealing all the patterns in a more disciplined and successful life. “Love your enemies”—check! “Don’t worry but pray”—check! “Love your wife as Christ loved the church”—check!

None of these righteous acts (or the many others we might have plucked for examples) should be disregarded or demeaned. But we must recognize this: if we don’t first see the wonder of God, we’re never going to get that righteousness quite right.

When Solomon (assuming Ecclesiastes came from his pen) wrote that we should stand in awe of God, he did so at the end of some practical instruction that amounted to this: “Shhh!” He noted the ways we can get ourselves in trouble by making a loose habit of opening our mouths and letting the words flow out, as if we had excellent insights to offer to God. It is all good instruction, but it makes so much more sense when we start where Solomon ended, when we stand in awe of God.

Beholding the awesomeness of God is the aesthetic view. It closes its mouth and opens its eyes. It soaks in who he is and how he functions—in his mercy, in his justice, in his love. It marvels at his power and his grace, from the rage of a hurricane to the flit of a butterfly. It recognizes with the psalmist, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14).

From this place of amazement, we can act. We do good because he is great. We live righteously by the Spirit of his perfection. We walk a path that only he could pave. We live a synthesized Christian life.

Jeff Hopper
August 14, 2014
Copyright 2014 Links Players International
The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.