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The game I love to hate and what its teaching me.

Sitting at the table during supper my then freshman looks at us and says, “I’m gonna try out for the golf team at school. I think I can make the varsity team.” I didn’t want to squash his hopes but aside from the yard golf he played as a youngster, the boy had never been through an entire eighteen holes. So in my most positive way I replied, “That would be great, but you are only a freshman… the junior varsity team would be a great start.” With determination in his eyes he looks straight at me and says, “I can make the varsity”… and he did.

That was the first year I watched an entire golf tournament start to finish, and I kept thinking to myself  this is the hardest game I’ve ever watched my child play. Yesterday I left the course and my opinion hasn’t changed. 
Boyer children have participated in many sports throughout the years. While I’ve spent most of my time being a softball/baseball mom, our three have dabbled in soccer, dance, track… football. My husband and I have traveled greater East Texas following team buses with a trunk full of snacks, chairs, and blankets for cold weather. We’ve taken pitching lessons to improve our curve balls and batting lessons to come out of a hitting slump. I’ve cheered and screamed encouragement from the outside of the fence until I had no voice left. They’ve won… they’ve lost and my heart has hurt with them many times. But there is absolutely no comparison to watching the sport my son has chosen to play each spring. 
First of all there’s no noise in this sport. The boys gather at their first tee box and the quiet is just well…overwhelming.

The tiny white ball takes it’s place on the little white stick stuck in the ground waiting. A practice swing is taken… feet set… and I hold my breath.

 As the ball is shot like a rocket high in the sky this momma wants to yell, “GREAT JOB!” Seriously it IS amazing the tiny ball takes flight no matter where it lands. It is somewhat of a miracle to think you can hit something so small with a long stick and it actually goes hundreds of yards. Still, no matter where the ball lands not a word can come forth… no clapping… no jumping up and down… nothing. 

They call it a team sport, but all the playing is done alone. Playing fields change week to week, not to mention weather conditions. Last week I literally was blown around the course by strong winds… this week rain.  Hazards appear around every turn drawing balls in like magnets. Balls sinking deep in sand and hiding like Easter eggs in pine thickets, and water… the dreaded water. Nothing sounds worse than the thunking splash of a ball diving deep to the bottom of a water hazard.

Every single time my son aims his putt at the three inch hole in the ground my thoughts race, “go in the hole, go in the hole, go in the hole!”

This game is hours long and at the end of the day the only thing you have to show for it is a number written red beside your name on the board. 

The number doesn’t say much really. Oh, I get it. The lower, the better but no red number can tell about the shot from a muddy creek bank hit just right. Or the sand trap eating a ball so deep you needed a shovel to dig it out. It doesn’t declare we made it through eighteen holes with only one three putt or shout the joy in finally finding the ball you thought was lost laying there under bush branches. Numbers don’t tell of the growth you see when your own chooses the smarter way or pulls himself together after a hole that literally eats his lunch. 
My husband says this is the game you love to hate. He should know. He saw the game as a young teen on television and went right out, found a golf club and a few balls. He mowed a place in the pasture behind the house and taught himself how to make the ball fly. He too determined to make the team and like my son played through his high school years. I guess it’s true what they say–the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. And I tend to agree with him… its a game you love to hate.
I’m standing behind the group of boys taking their turn at the tee box when something strikes me. This game is a lot like life in so many ways. Players all start in the same place, ending at the same place. Beginnings and endings don’t matter near as much as the middle. Making a hole in one doesn’t grow you up… finding lost things, digging deep, coming back after being smack dab in the middle of a hazard is where the growth happens. Taking the next swing when you want to give up… holding on to your club when you’d rather send it flying into the woods are the very moments that move you closer to the end. 
Something feels sacred in the hush of quiet steps off the first tee box in the early morning sun.  It’s the reason I choose to walk instead of ride in a cart.

This is the  beautiful picture of God in our lives. In the end my numbers will be etched somewhere in white marble, but they won’t be able to tell about the middle. My story, your story, can only be told by the One who took every single step with you. He does you know… take each and every single step. He cheers quietly from the side, watches intently as you move through hazards…encourages in the face of giving up.

Maybe in the end when we see Him face to face it will be a lot like the golf conversations I have with my son. Maybe we’ll sit right down on comfy couches and discuss the great shots. He’ll remind me of the times I moved through hazards and came out stronger… the times I thought were lucky breaks weren’t luck at all. We’ll rehearse the bad and the not so bad and how all of it worked for my good… to help me finish the course. 

Just like the final words of the conversations I often have with the three I call my own I can hear Him say to you and to me,,,
“No matter what the score is at the end of the day, it was enough to finish the course… I’m proud of you.”

 I have fought the good fight,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-29878A" data-link="(A)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> I have finished the race,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-29878B" data-link="(B)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-29879C" data-link="(C)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> the crown of righteousness,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-29879D" data-link="(D)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-29879E" data-link="(E)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.–2 Timothy 4:7-8


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