“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15, ESV)
I am often asked what I enjoyed most about playing on the LPGA Tour. While the opportunity to compete around the world and experience different cultures was amazing, the people and many friendships gained are what I hold as most precious.
Jesus’ holiness demands that we worship him as his servants, but his love and his hands drip with grace and compassion for us.Regardless of age and cultural differences, golf offers a common ground for people to connect on a personal level through a shared experience. Unlike other sports, golf offers the benefit of conversation over a 4- to 5-hour period. Many of my most cherished friendships have been birthed on the golf course with other players, through my housing experiences, and even people who cheered me on from behind the ropes. These friendships have outlasted time and distance, and even though I may not see them frequently, they remain a tremendous blessing in my life.
I have also witnessed different types of friendships stemming from my golf experiences. Probably the most common experience is a golf acquaintance—you enjoy the round and maybe even exchange business cards or connect via Facebook. You might reconnect down the road and you might not. I have a stack of business cards from people I have enjoyed playing with over the years.
The golf season—whether on tour or the country club—promotes deeper friendships that grow over time. You might have a casual friendship with someone where conversations lean toward business, social activities, or local events. You are more than an acquaintance, but most likely only see each other around the club a few times a month. But then there is a deeper friendship that forges with a few. These friends are weekly playing partners, invited to your home, and are privy to more intimate details of your life. While you may still play golf together, it’s no longer the reason why you are friends. You want to know these people and you want them to know you.
My friendship with Luke, a young man I met more than 16 years ago when he played college golf at Bethune-Cookman University, started as a golf acquaintance with me saying, “Maybe we can play some golf together,” but it didn’t take long for our friendship to move toward being one of my most cherished.
Luke is from England, and today lives more than 4000 miles away. Our friendship ebbs and flows like a river twisting through a canyon, floating through the shallows and deep waters alike. Our lives don’t intersect in person as often these days, but when they do we pick right back up as if it was yesterday… laughter, sharing stories, creating new memories, and honest conversations.
The gratitude I feel for my friendship with Luke reminds me of today’s invitation from Jesus. Jesus’ holiness demands that we worship him as his servants, but his love and his hands drip with grace and compassion for us. His upside-down invitation beckons us to an intimate friendship with him.
“I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you.” Jesus doesn’t want to be our acquaintance where we might connect with him at some point in the future. He longs for a deep, intimate friendship with each one of us… every day.
His invitation never expires. Will you accept it?
January 12, 2017
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