Regardless, something very interesting happens during these three days. On the whole, people don’t score as well as they have all season. Why? Because there is more pressure as we are playing for prestige and prizes; consequently, we are all hoping for three days of perfect golf. That combination never works out. So when that first errant shot or bad hole surfaces all the pressure to perform better intensifies and perfection flies right out the window––along with our hopes and dreams.
I recently read a book by sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella called Golf is Not a Game of Perfect. To paraphrase (and I hope I paraphrase correctly), a person will never play a perfect round of golf. Some might come close, but weather, wind, bad lies or bounces, bad strokes, bad judgement, all interfere with a perfect round, so a player should not be discouraged if the perfect game never materializes.
Instead golfers should expect that during a round, one, two, or all of the above might occur. Errors and bad luck are not the issue. What you do next is what is important. How do you recover?
The same can be said in other sports. Even in gymnastics and diving, when athletes earn the perfect score, it does not mean the feat was without flaws. Likewise, a perfect 800 on an SAT doesn’t mean the student didn’t miss any questions. Rather in these cases all are being rewarded for being close to perfect.
The same can be said of our Christian walk. Yes, we strive for perfection, and perfection is God’s standard: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), but this side of heaven we will always fall short. That is clear as well: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8). We will lose our tempers, we will disappoint, we will make mistakes––some small, some pretty big. We will sin. We don’t want any of this to happen; we strive to avoid them, but we need to realize that as humans, they will occur.
So like in golf, it isn’t when or where we stumble or fall short that is the key issue, it’s what we do next that is important. It’s what we do to recover, to get back on track, to repair our relationship with God. Let’s remember His love, grace, and mercy. Let’s remember that each new day, hour, minute, and second is a new start, and like Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14: "I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”