Okay… who’s been praying for my golf swing?
When our close friend’s son asked our daughter, Meagan, to marry him we were elated. As the Wedding Week was being planned several rounds of Golf were on the docket. I’d never had any interest in shagging a ball around for 4-6 hours; however, realizing this was an opportunity to spend time with them zipping around in a golf cart while engaged in a competitive sport that involved skill, grace, jawboning and a beer afterward I decided to take it up. So, the humiliating process of learning to “play” began. It’s been a year and a half and I stink at golf… but so does my best buddy who also happens to be my son-in-law’s father and the fourth in our regular foursome and frequent “Best Ball” partner. Misery loves company!
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While on vacation this summer a couple of pros watching me on the driving range had a choice… shoot me and save their course from further damage or intervene. Mercifully they took me under their wing and, with the patience of Job and a smirk, gave me the guidance/help/salvation/lessons I needed.
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For my lunch break today I went to the local driving range. (Note… what a deal! A bucket of balls, a corn dog, bag of chips and medium soda for $7… I’m thinking “Date Night”)
I pull out my 7 iron and start whacking balls. Whoa! Bam! Biff! Sock! Kapow! Bar the gates Katie!
I was Captain Junuh, Bobby Jones, and Walter Hagen… I’d found my swing! I have never hit the ball as good… consistently, high and far!
I'd gone to the driving range in a panicked attempt to break away from an oppressive spiritual sludge that covered me. It felt like a thick swarm of gunky mosquitoes the size of crows swarming around me that no amount of swatting and screaming could alleviate. I couldn’t out run them distancing myself from them hoping to buy a little time of peace before having to sprint again. Do you know what I’m describing?
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It had been a beautiful Colorado Fall morning with an apple crisp air and pumpkin hued mountains in the sun’s rising light. As usual I had given time to prayers of worship, consecration, and applying the full and triumphant work of Christ over my heart/soul/mind/body/spirit for the day. It seemed that all my brokenness, desire, deep wounds, yearnings for God, profound and compulsive sins were properly stowed in the caring hands of my Father God when I walked into the Outpost (our office building) and got bushwhacked by a bucket of iced Gatorade brewed in hell.
Suddenly I’m… irritated. Rankled by an email, fuming over a colleague’s presumption, soured by an odd look what’s-her-name gave me… actually I’m enraged by the mere presence of other humans.
The Outpost is suddenly dank and dark and with pairs of creepy little green eyes peering around every corner sneering at me. It was obviously spiritual warfare given that murderous thoughts are not common for me. I had faced this before on occasion… this feeling of being eaten alive by some hideous predator… probably the way it would feel to be devoured by a Lion (which according to all the nature shows I’ve watched doesn’t let its prey die prior to its blood devouring)
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8
I wondered what people without a warfare category do with such overwhelming experiences/feelings?
My morning was spent battling in prayer against this foulness to seemingly no avail. The prayers felt impotent leaving me with a foul mocking echo, “You can’t handle this… your life sucks. You suck! This is your miserable fate!!”
I clung to the truth of God and the promises of victory his word gives knowing that there are extended battles we must fight without losing heart.
They are harder than we expect. Hand to hand combat where time stands still and only the smoke, noise and fury seems eternal.
I recalled the account of Daniel praying for understanding of a vision he had had. At the moment of Daniel’s prayer God immediately answered it by sending a mighty and glorious angel to Daniel (many interpreters view this angel as the pre-incarnate Christ himself!). However, it took twenty-one days of warring with the demonic prince of the Persian kingdom before the angel could even get to Daniel with the answer to his prayer. In fact, the angel needed the help of the archangel Michael to battle this demonic being (Daniel Chapter 10).
There are battles over and for us that remain unseen, and if seen, would explain so much of the long suffering and enmity we endure.
I believed God would give me victory at some point, until then the sulfuric weighted film and crows seemed the dread champion.
Noon-ish the thought that came to mind was, “Run!”, “Get outta here!”, “Get some air, and do something… anything distracting!” My clubs were in the back of the Suburban so I went to the range.
After a brief argument with the vendor over who the hottest quarterback in the NFL was, and gripping over the fact that he was out of mustard for my corn dog I went to my bay and dumped out the balls and paused before striking the first.
The driving range was quiet and almost vacant; there was an elderly woman and a young jock sharing the range with me. A cold damp blustery breeze was blowing leaves around, distracting me until a huge flock of Canadian Geese glided in for a soft landing on the range (they were directly in front of me at about 150 yards… which is the safest place they could be.). The stillness and beauty of the moment caught my heart’s attention and I mutter the simplest prayer of the day, “Dear God I need you”.
I hit the first ball… and the Geese scatter. Straight. High looping and long. Whoa! I hit another… “God?”. And another… God came! I began to sense the beauty, strength and grace of his presence. For an hour I was in his presence with my 7 Iron. In his presence there is: victory, joy, peace, and LIFE. In long pauses between swings he spoke of his love of me and my strength in this battle… I felt his smile. The gunk was gone. I was with the Father… golfing!
He remains the ever-present and always surprising God!
- Craig McConnell