I used to play. Donated lots of dollars to the cause. Set aside large chunks of time to the pursuit. Had all the right equipment. Took lessons. Even watched others play on TV. After all, aren’t preachers supposed to play golf? It’s in the job description isn’t it? Truthfully, I was always frustrated. I like to excel. But no matter how hard I tried, how much I played I was terrible. I was a lot like Jeff Foxworthy. He once said that every time he went golfing, they would have to check him for ticks. Because he would spend half the day in the woods! So, I gave it up. Gave away the clubs. Haven’t stepped on a green since.
Even so, its golf that I am thinking about today. In particular, a little golfing practice called the mulligan. A mulligan, as you know, is basically a do-over. An extra shot every 9 holes or so that isn’t counted on the scorecard. I once heard Rick Warren give a sermon about this. And how God wants to give us a mulligan. Warren’s analogy is a bit limited theologically. But the premise is solid. Our God doesn’t keep a scorecard. His goal isn’t for us to get things exactly right. Our God is God of second chances. And fourth chances and five hundred chances.
God gave Moses a second chance after he committed murder. God gave Sampson another chance after he confessed the source of his strength to Delilah. And God gave David a second chance after committing adultery. Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh and preach against it. Jonah didn’t want to go. So he gets on a ship and sails in the opposite direction. A storm, a big fish, three nights of prayer and one disgusting exit. And then, Jonah chapter 3:1 – the word of the Lord came to Jonah a SECOND TIME. Even though he had rebelled and ran away, God gave Jonah a second chance.
It’s Good Friday. On this day-long ago, Jesus was nailed to a cross. Something Jesus willingly endured to show us how deep and wide God’s love is for us. Along the way, Jesus demonstrated again and again God’s mercy and grace. Towards the crowds, the religious leaders and the soldiers who crucify him. Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Towards the thief who hung on the cross next to him. Today you will be with me in paradise. And to Peter. Despite his pledge of faith, denying Jesus three times. But God gives Peter a second chance. When Easter morning comes the angel at the tomb specifically instructs Mary to go and tell the disciples AND PETER that Jesus is going ahead of them to Galilee.
And that gives me hope! How many times have I have disobeyed God’s will in my life? How many times have I turned my back on His presence? Created other idols before Him? Sought my own way rather than God’s way? How many times have I caused hurt to others, was careless with God’s blessings, ignored God’s word and hoarded God’s grace? The truth is I need a God of second chances. I need a God of the Mulligan!
I think it was Bob Hope who said – I went to play golf once. I tried to shoot my age. But shot my weight instead (http://www.golfjokes.com/quotes/). I try to do what is right. Live a love for others. But I inevitably fall short. I shoot my weight instead of my age. What about you? Where do you fall short of God’s call? Where do you struggle to show love? In what areas do you need a do-over? Thanks be to God for Good Friday. Thanks be to God that our God is the God of the second chance!
God bless you on this most important day! In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.