“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2 ESV
Last week I played the LPGA Senior Championship in French Lick, Indiana. Sprawling across the bluff, the Pete Dye layout is a beautiful and unfair golf course. Good and poor shots can lead to disaster. Cold temperatures and wind accentuated the bite of the beast.
Leading up to this event, I had played less than seven competitive rounds of golf in nine years. If you have played any type of tournament golf, then you know about the shift that happens between social and competitive golf. Anxious internal nerves can morph into unpredictable behaviors and performance. I know that sounds dramatic, but we all have felt them.
Last year I played this event with unrealistic expectations that set me up for self-condemnation and failure. I was my own worst enemy, I played angry, I was miserable, and I did not trust God. After intentionally practicing more this year, I arrived in French Lick with three goals to help reign in my vexing expectations and keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.
Before I share my goals, I need to tell you about my local caddie, Trevis. Within moments of meeting him, I knew we were mutually rooted in Jesus. And out of this common ground, I was blessed with a teammate who anticipated my need to stay warm (especially my hands), had experience on the course and read the greens exceptionally well, and encouraged me to remain steadfast to my goals.
God knew I needed Trevis to stay committed to my three goals: be kind to myself, work my process regardless of where the ball goes, and add up the score at the end of the day. Naming these three goals and having Trevis’s help were instrumental to remaining hopeful throughout the week. Even though my scores were disappointing, I experienced a joy and peace that left me feeling like a pro golfer again.
Our relationship with Jesus is no different. We often zero in on the results of our life, our circumstances, and use them to determine whether God cares about us or not. If our health, job, and relationships are thriving; we believe God is for us. When any of these break down; we may feel condemned by God, angry, and wrapped in hopelessness.
But hope…hope grows as we stay engaged in our process with Jesus. We can choose kindness through repentance (turn, change of mind) when we miss the target (sin), we can choose to stay focused on our individual process with Jesus — even when it feels hard, and we can choose to trust that God will provide what we need at the right.
The Pete Dye course can weaken even the best golfers in the world. However, this time, I walked away with my identity intact and free from condemnation.
Today, may you experience the Spirit of life through kindness to yourself, by remaining present to the little moments of the day, and in trusting God to handle the results.