Links Daily Devotional

A Large Mistake

FIRST IN A SERIES ON THE GOSPEL JESUS PROCLAIMED

“Judge not according to the appearance…” (John 7:24a, KJV)

We sat in the small, white tent signing our cards, about 50 yards from the eighteenth hole of the Phoenix Country Club. I had heard the 20-year-old beside me could play, but the last four hours he hadn’t seen a fairway.

He’ll never make it on Tour, I thought.

The sandy-faced man I speak of rose to number one in the world during the heydays of Palmer, Nicklaus and Player.

His name: Tom Watson.

If I ever misjudged someone, this was at the top of my list.

It wasn’t my first large mistake. I did the same thing with a Middle Eastern carpenter whom I had written off as myth.

That night I learned the good news was a story. And the story was told by four writers of the New Testament.Up until my senior year at the University of Houston, I didn’t realize Jesus was a man, as real as Tom Watson. To me, Jesus was no different from the Greek gods, Jupiter and Zeus.

I grew up in southern Idaho. Our family tree steps back to the beginnings of Mormonism. My great-great-grandfather, “Wild Bill” Hickman, was the bodyguard for the Prophet Joseph Smith and, after his death, President Brigham Young.

My church taught me about Jesus and what we called the restored gospel.

The restored gospel was about good deeds. The more we did, the higher of three kingdoms we would reach when we died. All this made good sense to me. I loved my church.

I’d give myself a B as far as how I lived out the gospel. Until my junior year in college when my older brother Sonny, a US Air Force pilot, was killed in a plane accident during a time of peace.

Sonny was my idol.

My faith failed. I couldn’t believe a loving God, who I thought was all-powerful, could let him die. Was God asleep? Or maybe there wasn’t one. I looked up to the sky and clenched my fist in anger.

The next 18 months I lived in empty agnosticism. Our team won our second NCAA championship, I won several tournaments, was selected as an All-American, but none of these laurels brought any lasting satisfaction. Life seemed meaningless.

Then during my senior year, my coach Dave Williams asked me to represent the team at a meeting in which some well-known athletes were to speak on faith and sports. I went only because I didn’t want to disappoint Coach.

Little did I realize that meeting would change me permanently. I had misjudged Jesus just as I had Tom Watson. I had no idea of the greatness within Tom Watson. Neither did I realize the greatness of the man whose name I had mouthed in vain for years.

These men pointed me to the Scriptures and what they called the good news, the gospel of Jesus. That night I learned the good news was a story. And the story was told by four writers of the New Testament.

I was encouraged to read this story in the Gospel of John. When I got to the eighth chapter, I was struck by a staggering claim by Jesus: “I am the light of the world,” he said.

It wasn’t long before he became that light to me. He filled my longings and lack of meaning. He became the lamp in the darkness I had felt even before Sonny’s death.

I fell headlong in love with my elementary school girlfriend the summer before our senior years and exchanged rings the following year. Our love has bloomed like a rose bush in summer to a family of three children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Lorraine says she loves me more now than ever. That day when she said, Yes, I will be your wife, it was the best news I’d ever received.

But as good as that was, the good news in Jesus is better. He has been the light he promised he would be for six decades.

No joy has been more lasting. No peace more enduring. And he has given this to anyone who is thirsty enough to drink of his living water.

Jim Hiskey
April 19, 2017
Copyright 2017 Links Players International
The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.

Other devotions in this series:
2 The Key Fundamental
3 After the Humiliation: Good News
4 The Garland
5 Much Ado About Much
6 The Living King and His Enduring Kingdom