Links Daily Devotional

The Winning Attitude, Part 23

IN EVERYTHING give thanks…” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, KJV)

Have you yet learned to “give thanks in everything”? As I have written in a number of Links Players devotions, this is one of the best habits you can ever give to yourself if you haven’t acquired it yet. Even more important, giving thanks continually is “pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:15, 16).

Last month former PGA Tour players Bill Rogers and Wally Armstrong, and my son Peter and I, took part in a team of 11 who traveled to Australia and New Zealand to encourage Australian PGA chaplain Graham Lawrence and longtime friend Milt Richards and their associates in their work with golf pros, amateur golfers, business and government leaders. We went to learn but also to strengthen the work these men have been doing there for more than three decades.

Our time coincided with Jordan Spieth’s win of the Australian Open. Many television broadcasters have praised Spieth for his stellar play, comparing him with Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy at the age of 21. But I have not heard one of them say how poorly he played in the second round of the tournament. He salvaged a one-over par 72, but he missed more fairways than he hit. And immediately after the round he trekked to the practice tee. Only minutes passed before he concluded he was getting nowhere. He told his caddie, “We’re leaving.”

Jordan’s caddie had hoped Bill, a fellow Texan and former Australian Open champion, might have some words of encouragement for Jordan, but Spieth was in no mood to speak with anyone.

I asked Bill later about how he felt about not getting to meet with Jordan. “I appreciate where he was,” Bill said. “I’ve been in similar situations myself. He is a young man, mature beyond his days. He has a great understanding of who he is.”

The episode reminded me of what we might call the principle of replacement. We see it laid out in Philippians 4:6-7. The New Living Bible captures this in its translation: “Don’t worry about anything; INSTEAD, pray about everything. Tell him what you need, and THANK HIM for all he has done.” I have put INSTEAD and THANK HIM in all caps to emphasize REPLACEMENT. We are to replace worry or anxiety or concern about anything with a prayer of thanksgiving.

I have a hunch Jordan did not give thanks in this situation, but he made a mature decision. Bill Rogers said, “He was not going to beat on himself on the range.” He ended any worry, anxiety or concern he had on the golf course that particular day when he gave his clubs to his caddie. Then returned to his hotel and enjoyed the beautiful city of Sydney. He let his mind rest.

His strategy worked. The next day he found something. Results: 69-63-66-67-63-66 in his next six rounds, for a stroke average of 65.67 per round and two dominant wins with some of the best players in the world in the field (he added a 10-shot victory at the Hero World Challenge to his Australian Open win).

If you have not yet learned this habit of “giving thanks in everything,” it is not too late. Think of any matter that may be of concern to you today. It may be some unresolved problem in a relationship, a financial or health problem. It may be a major or minor concern.

We are to “give thanks in everything.” Not necessarily for everything. But in everything. Keep in mind you are replacing any concern you have with the prayer of thanksgiving.

Most of my problems are resolved when I think of the character of God. Especially his sovereignty or his love. Since God is both sovereign and love, he is never surprised nor shaken. And because he is love, he cannot act in any other way than in love. So whatever the situation, I can thank him because he is in control and he wants only what is in my best interest.

So as you think about this matter of concern, offer a brief prayer of thanksgiving. Do it repeatedly throughout the day. Do it tomorrow. Do it consistently for 30 days and you may have developed one of the best habits you will ever make.

Jim Hiskey
December 18, 2014
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