The parable of the golf ball

By Donald Brazile

A Baptist minister decided to play hooky one Sunday to play golf. To his surprise, he was playing the best golf of his life when an angel asked God, “Are you going to let this slide?” God said, “Watch this.” The minister hit a 425-yard tee shot and the ball went in for a double eagle. The angel asked, “Why are you rewarding him?” God replied, “Who’s he going to tell?”

Speaking of telling or not telling what goes on at the golf course, in Lee Wilson’s book “The History of Golf,” he tells the backstory of the first golf balls. The balls were smooth and made from leather stuffed with feathers. Years later they started using shavings from Malayan trees that could be formed into balls. The new balls were better than the leather ones but still didn’t go very far—or very straight—so the golfers would give them to their caddies after a day’s practice.

Several months later, the golfers noticed something; their caddies were hitting balls farther and straighter than they were. It seemed the older balls that were beat up with nicks and bumps flew farther. They concluded that the more the balls were dented (dimpled), the higher and farther they would soar.

There might be a lesson (parable) here for us to consider.

The various trials and battles we go through in life create scars and leave marks on our lives that we wish weren’t there. Nevertheless, the marks of our struggles can be the very source that enables us to soar higher and further in our personal endeavors and achievements.

On the golf course, there are plenty of ways to get into trouble—they’re called hazards. What’s true of golf is true of life. None of us is exempt from life’s hazards: unexpected turns, closed opportunities, agonizing delays, unanswered prayer, and confusing periods of silence. With each blow, the more “dented” we become; still God takes us, dents and all, and doesn’t overhaul our personalities or change our backstories. Instead, he seeks to redeem them as we are willing to use them to move forward and upward.

 All of us fall prey to different hazards along the way, but the critical issue is whether we get up. Some people don’t rise. Pain of embarrassment cripples and binds them to their mistakes. Others spend an inordinate amount of time trying to discover who tripped them. And a few deny that they fall at all.

What can you do if your wings fall off while soaring through the hazardous areas of life? 

The first step to soaring again is to give up all hope of ever having a better past. Accept it, embrace it, and transform it into strength by using your past (dents) to propel you forward. Then start moving one foot in front of the other; this is the runway for taking flight. In God’s eyes, winning is beginning. The premium is placed on the heart to start. From that moment on, you can start to live with new vision, new perspective, and new alternative ways to navigate through the hazards of life—dents and all.

If there’s a person you know whose wings have fallen off due to the dents they’ve received on the course of life, hand them a golf ball and pass along this parable.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles.” Isaiah 40:31