Golf & God
By Kathi Woodall –
Last summer, I watched the US Open golf tournament with my husband. An aerial view provided a unique perspective of how the game of golf compares with our Christian journey. The overhead camera showed Rory McIlroy at the tee box as he prepared to drive the ball. Divots in the turf surrounded him where many others had made their drive from that same box. Rather than solid green, the whole tee box was tightly dotted with brown divots.
A few moments later, Rory continued to drive towards the green. Another camera shot on the fairway showed more divots, only this time they were yards apart instead of inches apart. Due to the excellent skill of the professional golfers in the Open, their first shots took each of them fairly close to the same position. As they progressed down the fairway, their respective drives took them further and further from each other as they each made their own unique journey. However, they all worked toward a common goal—to land the ball in the hole on the green at the end of the fairway.
Each Christian makes a similar journey. We all start at the same point like the golfers who each placed their tee in the ground and began their drive from the box. At that beginning point, we each recognized our own sin and need for a Savior. We repented and placed our faith in Jesus Christ who forgave us through His grace. From that common point of beginning, we each branch out in different ways. Poor choices or uncontrollable circumstances may leave us out in the rough, aiming to get back on course. Some may drive a straight line to the hole while others may zigzag all over the fairway. Regardless of the journey we take, we all work toward a common place. As the golfer works toward landing his ball in the cup, we work toward our eternal home in heaven with the One who redeemed us, Jesus.
Some may say my analogy could show different journeys all lead us to the same desired end. For example, someone may say a journey through Islam or Buddhism will each have the same result of “their ball landing in the cup.” He or she might say that we all take different journeys but every journey of faith results in eternity in heaven with God.
A problem exists with a pluralistic application. In the golf analogy, each player began their journey at the same point on the appropriate tee box. A player could wander onto the course and begin his drive from out in the rough. Although they would reach the pin at the end, their drive wouldn’t be successful because he didn’t begin at the tee box. Likewise, a golfer might begin their drive on the tee box for hole six. They hit the ball off of six and it lands on the green for hole seven. We wouldn’t count that as success for hole seven. The drive only counts if it began on the tee box for hole seven. We may begin a spiritual journey on some other path only to realize we need to be on the one that leads to eternity with God. To find eternal success, we must begin on the appropriate tee box, or in other words, go through the saving grace offered by Jesus Christ.
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6 NIV).