I used to be a pretty good golfer. Well, okay… Let me clarify that. I was pretty good three or four times every 18 holes or so. In my head I was a pretty good golfer a lot more often than that, but I never really saw those fantasies materialize. My love-hate relationship with golf began in my teen years when a friend of mine got some clubs and started playing. I wanted to get involved and learn the sport, but couldn’t afford golf clubs back then. That barrier was removed on the morning of my 17th Christmas.
The only golfing my folks had ever done was relegated to a “Putt-Putt” course at the beach, but they knew I was interested, so when they heard about a “whole golf set” they could get at a really great price, they snatched it up. The fact that these clubs were for right-handed players and that I swing left-handed never crossed their minds, and of course, the “deal” didn’t allow for returns or exchanges.
Awkwardness Personified ~
Doing almost any movement with your “wrong hand” that requires precise control can introduce you to new levels of awkwardness. Trying to swing my right-handed golf club with my left-handed brain didn’t look like anything I had pictured in my head, especially with my friends grinning at me. It reminded me of how ridiculous I felt when I attempted to kiss a girl for the first time. The picture in my head was so smooth and romantic she would probably collapse from sheer ecstasy. When the big moment came, I took a deep breath and turned toward her with my eyes tightly closed. Then, and as I slowly moved closer, it all went south as she said, “Why do you have your eyes shut and your mouth all scrunched up like that?”
In any case, I eventually learned to handle my wrong-handed golf clubs and enjoyed playing the game for years. But, my interest at this moment isn’t about the game itself. Thinking about golf reminds me of something one of my favorite golfing buddies used to say, especially if I was discouraged and struggling. He’d say, “Nothin’ to wait for, Gallagher.” What he meant by that simple comment was that there was no better time than now to turn things around. Nobody could do it for me, so it was time to stop with the excuses and pull out my best shot.
Wider Applications Possible ~
I’ve discovered over the years that my friend’s admonition fits situations that are a lot more important than a golf game. I probably missed lots of opportunities in my life because I was waiting to get to some internal tipping point, or hoping for an extra affirmation, waiting for a “sign” that would never come. In a sense, the idea behind my friend’s comment is lurking in a confrontation Jesus had with a group of Pharisees who were looking for another “sign” from Him. They were, ostensibly, struggling with whether or not to believe Him. Mark records it this way:
Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him. But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.” Mark 8:11-12 (NKJV)
The Ultimate Paradox ~
That scene depicts what could be considered the ultimate human paradox. The arrogant Pharisees were standing in the presence of a manifestation of God that exceeded anything the human mind could ever conceive and concluded that God needed to show them more. Jesus commonly did things no other human being had ever done and exhibited wisdom and understanding beyond anything even Solomon had displayed, yet in spite of that, they declared that it wasn’t enough. He fell short of their contrived Messianic standard, and He needed to do something more convincing. The fact that His love and message of forgiveness included the most reviled, rejected, and socially repellant classes of society and gave hope to the most hopeless only added to their skepticism. In the presence of the greatest “sign” that God ever gave, they declared that it wasn’t enough and turned away from the very threshold of Heaven.
The Roman Governor, Felix, found himself in a similar situation during the time when the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea. He had numerous personal discussions with Paul, and heard the gospel of Jesus Christ directly from a man who was personally called and commissioned by the resurrected Christ and who was very likely the greatest expositor of New Testament Christianity ever to grace the planet. Felix was convicted regarding the truth of who Jesus was, why He came, and the promise of eternal life that He offered, but he chose to send Paul away and put off a decision about commitment for a “more convenient” time.
Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” Acts 24:25 (NKJV)
A More Important Question ~
We could ponder the underlying reasons for Felix’s hesitation, but there’s a more important question for us to consider today. Our concern is not whether that “more convenient time” ever came for Felix, or whether any of those Pharisees ever decided to believe. The vital question is, what about us? Like it or not, all of us have a decision to make about Jesus. In Christ, God confronts every one of us. He exposes the ultimate source of all our pain and disappointment and declares that His sacrificial death and resurrection is the only remedy. On the cross, He absorbed the penalty for every sin we ever committed and bought the right to offer forgiveness and eternal life to all who would believe. He stands ready to forgive our sins, to welcome us into His family, and secure our eternal destiny, but a personal decision is required.
Regardless of the reasons we might assign for hesitating to respond to God’s invitation to follow Jesus, and/or to fully commit to serving Him, this much is true. God has already sent His ultimate “sign.” He has already made His final argument and has said His last Word in the person of His Son. If Jesus isn’t enough, then nothing will ever be. For any who might be hesitant to say “yes” to all that Jesus offers, my golfing buddy’s comment couldn’t possibly be more true . . . There really is, “Nothing to wait for.”
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