Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 72, Even Par

Psalm 112:6-7
"Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. "

First of all, I'll apologize for all the sports analogies I use. That's how I think. When a thought comes to mind, I generally relate it to sports. It's how I roll (sorry kids).

Today is Day 72. When I think of 72, I think of even par. The majority of PGA golf tournaments have a par of 72 for 18 holes. (Practically all tournaments are 72 holes too.) There's nothing glamorous about even par. It's dull, boring, uneventful. Professional golfers want birdies, not pars. They'll even take the occasional bogey as the payoff for taking the risk to get the birdie or even the eagle.

I once heard that if a pro golfer shot even par every round of every tournament, he would be in the top 10 on the money list most years, winning more than $1 million a year. Last season, even par would have been one shot off the lead at the US Open. While you won't get the headlines with even par, you'll do quite well.

We feel kind of like that golfer who is shooting even par. Tammy's progress is not flashy. She's not ready to take on the world, or win a golf tournament. She hasn't made that miraculous shot for an eagle, but she also hasn't knocked it in the lake and taken a double-bogey. Slow, steady, consistent improvement is the goal.

The last month has been slower. She got better so quickly that we expected her to continue on that rate of improvement. But there is a reason that the doctors tell us this is a 100-day trek. It will be 100 days from the transplant (or almost another month) before she feels ready to get out and start to get back to normal.

It reminds us of our spiritual walk. God is not looking for flashy--the good deed that grabs the headlines while we secretly live a life that draws people away from Him, not to Him. He wants consistent, honest, faithful followers.

I was in a Bible study this week studying 1 John 3:4-6. We spent the entire hour on those three verses. ("Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.") It's hard to come to grips with that last sentence. As followers of Christ, we still know that we sin. How do we justify this in our minds?

While not justifying sin, we decided that these verses are talking about a lifestyle of sin, where sinfulness is "ruling principle" of our lives. We should continue to feel guilty for sin. In fact, it's when the sin no longer bothers us that we are in danger of falling into the lifestyle of sin to which John refers.

We also talked about how our biggest need is the ability to accept the forgiveness Christ offers. Consistent, steady, even-par faith does not assume that we will never have a bogey (sin). It doesn't assume that we will never have a birdie (a good deed that brings glory to Him). It assumes that God is the center of our lives. As consistent, even-par Christians, we reach the end of the round right where we should be.

Happy golfing.

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