Saturday, June 11, 2016


Imperfect Cross, Bethlehem, Israel

A pending Duke Theology graduate and friend shared his learning experience in the Holy Land last Thursday at a breakfast and thoughtfully presented everyone with an olive wood cross that was made in Bethlehem. As the bag of crosses was being passed to me I noticed an odd shaped cross through the clear plastic which I selected. This imperfect cross is slightly out of balance as the horizontal beam leans to one side, unlike the perfect being that willingly sacrificed himself for us on such a cross. There were a lot of crosses in the bag that were more perfect than this one, but it reminded me of the shells that I now pick up at the beach. When we first arrived in the Carolina’s and went shelling on the beach, I would seemingly walk forever to find the perfect shell that was not broken or misshapen or contained any flaws from days of being tumbled in the surf. Then on a much later beach trip, I began to notice the beauty that is in those shell fragments that are broken and polished by the constant pressure of the waves and the storms of life. That was the day that I began to collect those treasures that the bearer of the footsteps ahead of me had left unclaimed.

Our Creator and Savior doesn’t leave us unclaimed either. He created us humans with imperfections in a broken environment and gave us the free will to choose how we live and grow in our lives.

I’ve had two knee joint replacement surgeries and open heart bypass surgery in between them. God has taught me through my shelling experience on the Carolina beaches that the remnant zipper scars from those surgeries are not abhorrent but artistic character lines that were earned in the trenches of this broken world! And many of life’s scars are not visible, but all can be celebrated when God walks with us or even carries us on the beaches of life and helps us emerge safely on the other side of the island.

I know many of you have dabbled in the game of golf over the years and I’ve played the game on and off since I was in college fifty years ago. And one thing that I’ve learned through all those hours on a golf course is that the game of golf imitates life in so many ways. Perhaps that is one of the subconscious reasons so many of us are drawn to the game. It’s also one of those games that can never be mastered, although there are occasions when you pull off a perfect shot and can feel like you are indeed playing in the zone. Life can be like that too!

Over the years I’ve read a couple of the books by a sports psychologist, Dr. Bob Rotella. I find that he has some pretty astute observations on the game of golf and life. One of those quotes I particularly like is that:

“Golf is about how well you accept, respond to and score with your misses, much more than it is a game of perfect shots.”

And there are plenty of times in life where it seems we have absolutely no control over the adverse circumstances that we’re encountering. But we always have one very important control that we need to remember and that’s how we choose to respond to a situation. We always have a response to the hard shanks of life by communicating with our Savior who understands the suffering and pain we humans can encounter in this temporary mortal life. I don’t think it’s possible for any of us to go through life without experiencing pain and suffering. We have a lot of misses in life. It’s not a game of perfect. But when we have a solid foundation of faith based on the Word of God and the promise of His priceless grace and presence for us, we can respond with strength and the sure knowledge that He has us in the grip of His loving hands.

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