Monday, September 17, 2012

On the Greens . . . Peter A. Black

What a gorgeous day for a round of golf amidst a beautiful setting! The course, while close to town and nestled between several roads, is distributed through sufficient scenic territory and natural beauty to inspire a sense of wonder and offer in certain areas a degree of seclusion.

We worked up a sweat, my wife and I, as we picked up our heels on our way through the course. Thankful as I was for the solar protection afforded by my brimmed hat and long-sleeved shirt, it was still hot, hot, hot! But nice.

Sheltering in the welcome shade afforded by a canopy of trees and resting on a wayside bench, we took a swig from our water bottle, which provided us several minutes of relief from the sun and some refreshment. I lingered for a minute or two on a bridge over the creek to spot signs of aquatic life before moving on and climbing higher to the next area.

Electric golf carts merrily ghosted along, sweeping by us. Their occupants – cucumber cool, ensconced under cute canopies – returned our greetings with smiles and waves. Oh yes, it was indeed a great day for golf. We are very fortunate to have a course like this so close to the community.

How’s our game – our handicap? No game and no handicap – at least, not a golfing one. As a kid I often took club in hand and played at a city putting park. A few years back I ventured to shoot a bucketful of balls wildly across a field, at a driving range. Many years before, I once caddied for a friend, and a half-century ago in Scotland, my shoe leather even touched down on the soil of the venerable St. Andrew’s course, while on holiday there.

No, we weren’t golfing this summer, and neither are we golfers. [And neither are we the handsome couple in the picture!] My wife and I were only virtually on the course, walking the community trails that wind their way through it. We had a pleasant experience, and enjoyed many of the elements golfers enjoy – fresh air and beautiful surroundings of nature and exercise, but no development of golfing skills, and no sense of accomplishment in improving our game or coming ahead of an opponent.

We were so close to the action as it was safe to be, and sometimes we slowed down in our walk to witness a tee-off. Some people play virtual golf through the medium of electronic action games, such as the Nintendo Wii technology. Like us, so near the real thing, and yet so far. 
 How many of us get close to the Kingdom of God, but don’t participate in its life? We may or may not attend a church, but might well enjoy certain benefits made available through that community, perhaps through a church-sponsored community help program. 
Some of us enjoy warm sentimental or toe-tapping gospel music, especially country, while others enjoy various forms of liturgical music and find it a transcendent experience. Chords of emotion are stirred deep within, but is that sufficient to bring one to a personal trust in the Saviour and result in spiritual rebirth into the Kingdom of God?

Virtual faith, like my wife’s and my skirting the golfing greens, is still more observation than participation.

Jesus once told a religious man, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34)


Let us enter right in and participate. Our Lord Jesus, through His sufferings and death on the cross, paid the price for our entry into the grace and Kingdom of God.

Peter A. Black is a freelance writer in Southwestern Ontario, and author of a children's / family book, "Parables from the Pond." 
An earlier version of this article was published in his weekly column in the August 30, 2012 issue of The Watford Guide-Advocate, and has been adapted here. 
His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario.


Glynis said...
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Glynis said...

Ha! had me fooled for a minute. At first it sounded like you both were heartily participating in the game! But I suppose that is how it works in this world, too, isn't it? We easily fool others into thinking we are doing everything right in our Christian walk, but we need to pinch ourselves once in a while and remind ourselves that God knows our hearts, our motivation and what truly resides in our hearts. Virtual Christianity doesn't quite work, does it?
Thanks for making me think, Peter. And, I hope you both continue to enjoy more of those long 18 hole strolls together for a very long time to come!

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