The roaring blue-green ocean wafted its familiar and beguiling scent to me. Nearly three hundred yards away, a tiny island of green also beckoned and simultaneously mocked me. My arms akimbo, I surveyed the postcard-like scene. It was the most picturesque and difficult hole on the golf course. Every few seconds, the white surf crashing on the rocks below sufficiently cleared so that I could discern dozens of white golf balls, evidence of years of failed attempts.
Be the ball! Dozens of other aphorisms raced through my mind as I attempted to picture the flight of a perfectly struck ball, sailing over the yawning aqueous canyon, and alighting a few feet from the hole. I confidently stepped up to the tee and after a few waggles and practice swings, addressed the ever smaller white ball. With one final glance at the flagstick whipping in the wind, I swung. Be the ball! Be the ball! I repeated this phrase as I watched the ball disappear into the ocean. My friend and playing partner smiled and patted me on my back. “Don’t worry, it’s not the score that matters. It’s the struggle!”
I often thought the friendly words of advice my friend gave me were just an excuse to justify my perennial bad playing. Yet, when I paused and reflected, I realized that I could probably play every day for the next ten years and still never achieve the level of excellence that would even qualify me to be a ball washer at the local public golf course. I knew the end goal, the score, I was attempting to achieve, but perhaps it was the struggle that was more important.
My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Ecclesiastes 12:12-13 (ESV)
The man who wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes echoed a similar sentiment. Many believe the author was King Solomon, the wisest and richest king that ever ruled Israel. He was willing to experience everything, including a hedonistic and ascetic lifestyle, in an attempt to understand life and what it meant to live in a relationship with God. Along the way, he made many mistakes, including marrying many foreign wives, allowing them to turn his heart away from God and worship idols and false gods. At the end of his life, he could confidently write that the end goal for himself and everyone was to fear God and keep His commandments. However, for him to reach this conclusion, he had to live this life. He had to struggle like all of us. His final conclusion was not a flippant or dismissive statement. It was the result of much pain, contemplation, and prayer.
God honors our struggle when we do it to become closer to Him. We will all make mistakes and there will be many tears but God’s patience with us is infinitely greater than our patience with ourselves.
Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.