Links Daily Devotional

My Lesson from Doug

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart… and your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39, ESV)

We had just finished eighteen holes and were on the putting green. “Give me one shot and let’s putt the course.” Doug waved his putter head above his head pointing it to the nine-hole putting course at Washington Golf and Country Club.

“What’s the game?” I asked, knowing full well he wanted to gamble for something.

“Let’s play for time,” he said. He threw his ball down near the cup of the knee high red flag, our first hole.

“Time?” I felt my forehead furrow.

“Fifteen minutes. If I lose, I’ll do anything you want for fifteen minutes.”

Golf, the game we loved, was the vehicle to link us.I knew this was sinister. But I didn’t think he could beat me. He was playing to a nine or ten handicap and I was still scratch or below.

An hour later, after five times around, I’d lost two hours. He walked off the green, smiling, “Have to leave for dinner.”

How did Doug make me pay? With cruelest servitude.

The following Monday and Tuesday I was forced to my knees at 4 a.m. My assignment: Read 15 minutes from E.M. Bounds book, Power Through Prayer. Then pray 15 minutes. After 30 minutes, read E.M. Bounds 15 more minutes, then pray for 15 minutes. Do the same thing the next day.

I think Doug was trying to teach me an important lesson. As Oswald Chambers wrote, “Prayer does not equip us for the primary work. Prayer is the primary work.”

Doug Coe died last month. We had known each other for 55 years and labored together, living in proximity, for 52 years. Besides Dick Halverson, my former pastor and mentor, no one urged me to share Jesus in the golf world more than Doug Coe.

He was called the “stealth Billy Graham.” Not a bad description. He abhorred being out front. And he personified Jesus’ words “you are the salt in the earth.” He possessed what Dick Halverson called a ministry of anonymity. Doug sought “no reputation” (Philippians 2:7, KJV).

At the end of his life, he was still praying for disciples in all 200-plus countries of the world. In most of them he had good friends he had introduced to Jesus. He prayed with every US President since Dwight Eisenhower, but more importantly he had a hidden ministry of discipleship to and by the poor on every continent.

One of my fondest memories was when I helped him write the cover story for the Links Letter January/February 1991, titled, “Linking Golfers Around the World in Christ.” At the heart of his article was the Great Commandment: Being linked in love with God and each other. Golf, the game we loved, was the vehicle to link us.

Those 52 years ago, Doug and I made a covenant: Build our lives around the Great Commandment. Make our relationships with God, our wives, and our family top priority over any ministry we were into and love each other to the end. Stay connected in whatever Jesus led us to do.

Next to meeting Jesus and marrying Lorraine, that covenant with Doug was the most important decision I’ve made in my life.

Doug’s passing has left a big hole under the right side of my chest. I cry in pain at times. But then I think, he’s with his youngest son, Jonathan, a cancer fatality. And now in the presence of the King of Kings. When I think about it, my heart flips into joy.

Jim Hiskey
March 22, 2017
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