Out of the blue one day, Stan asked, “Do you play golf?”
“I do,” I said. “I really enjoy it, but I am not very good.”
“You just described my game,” Stan said with a laugh. “My hope is that I will live long enough to shoot my age!”
He continued, “I want to tell you about a friend of mine who taught me a valuable lesson without even knowing he was part of the learning process.”
“Sounds interesting; go on,” I replied.
“I had a dear friend named Dick. He is gone now; got on the train a few years ago. I sure do miss him!”
“Dick and I played a lot of golf together. At first, neither of us would mark our golf ball to be able to identify it so we wouldn’t hit the wrong ball.”
“After a while, I noticed that Dick would always find his golf ball whenever we were looking for it in the rough.”
“We would find a ball, and Dick would say, ‘Yeah, that’s the one I hit.’”
“To avoid that temptation, I put my initial on my ball so I would always know that I was hitting the right ball.”
“A couple of years later, I changed my ball mark to a cross, thinking that substituting the cross for my initial is the essence of Christianity — putting Christ in place of myself.”
“That is a great lesson,” I replied.
“But that is not all,” Stan continued.
“Having my ball marked with a cross has accomplished several things.”
“First of all, of course,” he said, “it makes certain I am hitting the right ball.”
“Secondly, “when I stand over my ball and see the cross, it certainly puts my focus on the right thing — to represent Christ on the golf course.”
“And, there have been lots of times when someone I am playing has asked why I mark my ball with a cross. That has opened up many opportunities to share the truth of the cross.”
“In addition to Dick unknowingly giving me what I call ‘the theology of the golf ball,’ he opened up a lot of thought about marking every area of my life with the cross so that another person would see a difference and be curious as to what it is that motivates me, curious enough to give me an opportunity that might change his or her life and eternal destination.”
“And, my friend, I encourage you to think about what parts of your life can and should be marked with the cross.”
Concluding, Stan added, “The only way I know of to mark any part of my life with the cross begins with denying self by putting aside everything that is contrary to the cross governing my life.”
If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Matthew 16:24.
Prayer: Lord, I thank you for every learning opportunity you present to me. Please help me to be aware of what it is you want me to learn and to apply to my life. In this instance, I ask you to open me to see how I can mark each area of my life for you so that you can use me to make a difference with whoever you bring before me. Amen.