I used to watch a lot of golf on television. I hate to admit this but there was a time in my life when I loved golf. I literally adored it.
Before I lost my heart to golf, I already knew what it felt like to love. When I met my wife, I was so “head over heels” in love with her that I thought about her almost every waking moment. I loved everything about her and cherished every moment I had with her.
Twenty three years ago in the midst of a major crisis, I fell in love again. I fell in love with God. I had a terrific need for answers about my life and I had none. I cried out to God for help [for the first time] and He responded. I saw my way forward and it was with His guidance. I loved Him for His help. I thought about God and His son Jesus Christ every waking moment. I soaked up anything Christian I could get my hands on.
The third time I felt an obsessive love for anything was when I fell in love with golf. I know, some of you may think that golf is not on par [pun intended] with a wife and God and you would be oh so correct, but I went overboard in my love for golf. I studied it, read magazines about it, watched any golf channel show I could find on golf techniques, bought DVDs on golf and yes I spent countless hours watching golf on the weekends. At one point in my life, I found a way to get to the golf course on average four times per week.
Neurologist Daniel Levitan* has done extensive study on what it takes for a musician to get from the good level to the professional level to the world class level. His research found that by the age of twenty good players had logged about four thousand hours of practice, professionals had logged eight thousand hours and elite performers had logged ten thousand hours. Elite performers have the edge with innate talent but they found that other key factors are discipline and persistence.
I would imagine this level of practice, discipline and persistence would apply to proficiency in golf.
I will never know for sure. I still play the game from time to time, but I guess you would say, I have fallen out of love.
Still love my wife and still love God and His Son Jesus…
This brings me to the point of this post. What do I desire in my life with Christ? I desire something that I cannot attain with all the innate talent in the world, all of the discipline I can muster and that wonderful characteristic persistence.
I would like to live a righteous life.
John Piper** has written extensively about this life. In his personal search for purpose, he feels that the Christian should live to glorify God: “God’s purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God’s glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory and these two are one passion.” In Billy Graham’s book The Holy Spirit, he says we cannot attain a righteous life, much less glorify God without help from the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible’s standard of human righteousness is God’s own perfection in every attribute, every attitude, every behavior, and every word.
The bad news is that true and perfect righteousness is not possible for man to attain on his own; the standard is simply too high. The good news is that true righteousness is possible for mankind, but only through the cleansing of sin by Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We have no ability to achieve righteousness in and of ourselves. Graham writes the Holy Spirit supplies power to us for one reason; He wants us to use it. He will permit us to have as much power as He knows we will use or need.
“Unfortunately, many Christians are disobedient and having prayed for power, have no intention of using it, or else neglect to follow through in active obedience [Graham, 130]. Like John Piper, Graham feels like the righteous life is one that glorifies God, a life that honors Him and furthermore, a life that is dedicated to service to others. This is a high calling, a calling that we cannot attain alone.
Innate talent may be wonderful for the musician or the golfer. Discipline is necessary for someone who wants to go from the good level to the professional level. Persistence is so important when we have a setback; too many people give up when problems occur.
Want to be a world class Christian?
There is only one way. You have to get help.
You have to call upon the Holy Spirit.
*Levitan, “The Science of a Human Obsession” **John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life