I’ve been playing the game of golf since I was 19, and can still recall joining some of my freshman baseball buddies on the Texas A&M golf course, playing my first nine holes without any prior golf instruction.
Even young athletes would be wise to get a little instruction before heading out to a golf course for the first time. I do remember taking at least 50 strokes, but I was hooked and took up the game seriously that summer.
The game of golf was by far the most difficult sport I had ever attempted to play, and I was determined to do it well. I can’t remember my first birdie, but do recall my first eagle at Brackenridge Park Golf Course, the long-time site of the Texas Open in San Antonio. It came on the par five ninth hole and I snaked in a putt that was nearly 100 feet long for a three (two under par) with Preston Kuykendall, my shortstop on our St. Mary’s University baseball team as my witness!
One of the major goals in golf is to “bounce back” from a bad hole to make up for shooting over par on the previous hole. You’ll often hear television golf announcers talk about players bouncing back from a bogey (one over par) when they get a birdie (one under par) on the next hole.
Bouncing back from a bad hole is critical in scoring even or under par in a round. The bounce backs I usually experience these days are more along the lines of getting a par after several bogeys in a row, since my golf game has suffered as I’ve aged. I still love the game and bouncing back still gives me an exhilarating feeling.
We can all experience this bouncing-back phenomena without ever picking up a golf club. I’ve experienced it in business over the past 30-plus years. And, I’ve also faced my share of personal life experiences that have allowed me to bounce back from adversity, as well. I’ve always found these occasions to be both memorable and significant in my endeavor to persevere.
Quite often, we may have done nothing to deserve the negative position in which we may well find ourselves. In golf, as in life, sometimes the golf ball just takes an unfortunate bounce into a water hazard, bunker or some other difficult lie.
Then again, we may be at fault, but we can still bounce back, whatever the cause might be. The cause is truly irrelevant. We simply need to realize that dwelling on the problem does no good at all, and the sooner we move on the better.
Jesus’ disciples went through many trials and most of them died as martyrs, yet they persevered for Christ until their last breath. They knew how to bounce back from adversity.
If you want to dig into this subject of martyrdom, the most complete work on the subject was written in the 16th century. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is a challenging read, but worth the effort, if you truly wish to understand the impact of the persecution that so many followers of Christ have experienced over the centuries.
The cost of our salvation is found only in the cross and Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, but the costs have been great as many even today in some countries continue to gladly sacrifice their lives to further the gospel message.
The words of Paul shared in his letter to the church in Philippi seem appropriate at this time. In Philippians 1:20-24, he declares “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two; I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”
That’s exactly where I believe God wants us. He isn’t looking for martyrs, but for devoted followers who will place Him and others before their own needs. He wants us to bounce back from whatever the enemy throws at us and be faithful to the very end. He wants us to have true victory as we deal with adversity in this world.
Please join me in bouncing back for the sake of Christ!
Passages to Ponder
— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.