Friday, December 05, 2008

Riding With Arnold Palmer

A very good friend and I were at the same conference recently in Florida. We were playing golf in two different foursomes at a private country club. Between us was a foursome that contained golf legend Arnold Palmer. I saw him several times but was content not to hit him with my ball or with a club swinging wildly out of my hand.

My friend Gary played the first nine holes, then bowed out of the game and went for a walk. He began following quietly Arnold Palmer's game. Eventually he saw they’d noticed him following at a distance, so Gary went to Arnold and boldly asked permission to follow just to watch him play. The response was gracious, and my friend hugged tree after tree in order to watch a great athlete play a great game. At the final hole Arnold motioned for Gary to come over. After they’d introduced themselves, Gary asked if he could take Mr. Palmer's picture on his cell phone. "No, I want my picture taken with you." Another player snapped the shot of my friend with a toothy grin, his arms wrapped around the great Arnold Palmer. Then Arnold looked at my friend and said, "Gary, do you want to ride with me back to the clubhouse?"

When I heard the story I admit I felt a twinge of envy. Why hadn't I thought of that?

Well, let me tell you what I see in this simple and great little story. All too often, I, like Gary, feel drawn to the Lord. I sometimes get bold and watch Him from a distance. It feels safe watching as a fan of His amazing swing, the perfection with which He moves in this imperfect world. I sometimes feel my prayers would only be an interruption to a great and busy man. I would be overwhelmed if he posed in a picture with me. It would be enough to simply ride to the clubhouse with Him.

But every day He wakes me for our life together. Every night He meets me in the darkness with His comforting presence. Every noon hour His faithfulness guides me in perfect wisdom and love. God is with me. That is an overwhelming thought. It is also thrilling in its truth. The reality of Jesus coming as my Emmanuel weighs profoundly upon my life. I worship Jesus. He is God in the flesh. He came not to play a game but to break the curse of sin and death. He’ll never leave or forsake those for whom He suffered and died. He is alone worthy of my love, devotion and praise.

Ed Litton