Links Daily Devotional

The Chance to Say Goodbye

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59, NIV)

In the glow of electric lights, Tom Watson finished his final round in the Open Championship at nearly 10 o’clock St. Andrews time Friday night.

The spectators, most of whom had gone to warmer settings as cold descended on the delayed rounds of that waning day, reemerged, some at a run, from the hotels and taverns to line the eighteenth fairway and surround the eighteenth green. Watson stopped on the Swilcon Bridge with his playing partners Brandt Snedeker and Ernie Els and their caddies, including Watson’s son Michael. They snapped some pictures with Watson, then let him be with Michael. And finally, there stood Watson himself, his hat doffed and his face strobe-lit by photographic flashes.

After an unceremonious bogey, Watson was greeted by family, friends, fellow Tour players, with hugs, kisses, handshakes. He hustled to sign his card, then sat with Tom Rinaldi and said in a TV interview, “There were no tears. This was a joyous occasion.”

Tom Watson had what many wish for, a chance to say goodbye. For many reasons, we think this important. And yet…

There is a fear in saying goodbye. When we carry a diploma back to our graduation seat after years of study, we are met with that gut check: What now? When we come to the end of a career and call it the last day on the job, we eye the shrinking timeline ahead and wonder if we’re quitting too early. And when we one day meet up with the closing door of life—if we even are given this conscious chance—we will face the greatest question of all.

How we say goodbye has much to do with how we’ve prepared for it. Tom Watson did not go out as he wished. On that Swilcan Bridge, he pointed fingers of tribute to the darkened sky. He told Rinaldi that this was for some dear friends he has lost in life. Rinaldi asked him, “What do you think they were seeing?” Watson grinned and quipped, “A hack.”

So his last round was no good in the wind and rain and cold. No one noticed. Tom Watson received a grand sendoff because of what he had done through the years.

We cannot control our final round. Some of us will go in a finger snap. Some will be surrounded by our closest loved ones when we breathe our last breath. But those who have prepared best are not greatly concerned about the end of this life. Rather, they want to be welcomed at the next.

The affection of those with whom we have shared life on this planet is a fine thing. The reception of the Lord with whom we will share eternity—that is everything. You don’t have to wait until the end to rightly prepare for that reception. You can do it today.

To find out more about what it means to trust and follow Jesus, we encourage you to read The Perfect Round of Golf here.

Jeff Hopper
July 20, 2015
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