Focused on Finishing Well

With all the rain we’ve had the golf course looks pretty excellent. If you can’t find me at home or at the church perhaps you’ll find me on the fairway.

My best game of golf ever was on a nine hole course along the banks of the Heart River in Northern Alberta. I can even tell you the date! It was June 30, 2003. My son and I were golfing when a sudden storm came up. Oh boy. This was no ordinary storm. The rain came. Tornadoes were spotted in the area. Buildings were ruined. The severe wind uprooted trees.

Any normal person would have called it a game and headed back to the clubhouse. But I had been having a good game and why not finish the four holes we had left to play? The amazing thing was that even in the high wind and rain my game continued to be above average. I don’t remember exactly but I think I had a birdie and three or four pars. In the midst of a distracting environment I remained focused on my goal of finishing well!

I am reminded of a story I read about Arnold Palmer. It was the final hole of the 1961 Masters Golf Tournament. Arnold Palmer had a one-stroke lead and had just hit a good tee shot. He was in great shape to win. As he approached his ball for the second shot, a friend stuck out his hand and said, “Congratulations!”

Palmer said later, “As soon as I (shook his hand), I knew I had lost my focus.” Over the next two shots, he hit one in the sand trap, then again over the edge of the green. Finally, he missed a putt and lost the Masters.

Arnold Palmer learned a very hard lesson about focus that day: Keep your eye on the goal. This is as true in golf as it is in our spiritual lives. “We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2 GWT). Another translation says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus ...”

The idea, when you look at this verse in context, is to pay no attention to those things that distract you from your goal. Separate yourself from these distractions. There are so many things that can and do distract us on our faith journey. I will mention just a couple of things.

Money (making it, keeping it, or spending it) can be a huge distraction. I like what Will Rogers said. “Too many people spend money they earned ... to buy things they don't want ... to impress people that they don't like.”

Sports in it’s many forms can be a distraction. These forms include television coverage (like the Stanley Cup playoffs) or your kids involvement in organized sports. I’m not saying it’s easy, however, hard choices have to be made and more often than not faith loses out. No one complains when an exciting game goes into overtime. In comparison, what if the preacher really gets into the Word and preaches a longer sermon? I rest my case!

Other distractions could and do include media (cell phones), religion (yes you read right), relationships, work, hobbies, or the crumb that refuses to fall off of someone’s lip! So let us be in agreement with the writer to the Hebrews and make it our priority to focus on Jesus.