The Back Nine

Golf at Bishop Country Club is one of the most amazing of pastimes. The fresh air. The smell of fresh cut grass. The color scheme of blues and greens (and the white ball). The camaraderie of the playing partners. The open skies and topography are incredible against the backdrop of the beautiful Sierra Nevada and White Mountains. Wow! One can hardly wait to hit the open fairways.

Often times in the first few holes of the front nine, your play identifies what kind of round it is going to be; will it be a day of exercise and enjoyment, a day of companionship, or is it a day of scoring well?

As you make the turn, grab a hot dog and use the facilities you begin “the Back Nine” – the final nine holes of the round. This is a time to re-evaluate the first nine, to re-evaluate strategies and tactics; what worked and what didn’t, analyzing if a new game plan may be more successful. And as we tee off there is the ever-present awareness of the 18th hole lurking in the very near future signaling the end of the round, and the very certain reality that eventually you’re going to have to post your score.

Let me suggest the game of golf is a metaphor of life, most notably life in the final half. Life in many respects parallels the game of golf – only it is not a pastime – it is real life. Truth be told, many of us have made a mess of the front nine. Been in all kinds of hazards, endured penalties, maybe gone out of bounds (some of us have gone way out of bounds), and maybe we even had a few successes along the way.

But now, right around now we find ourselves having made the turn and heading down the fairways of the back nine where lurking in the distance is the walk up the final fairway to the final green. Eventually you’re going to have to post your score.

So, I ask the question men; how are you going to finish the last half of life? Are you ready to post a good score? Let me point out a few areas.

Do you have a “pre-shot” routine? Before you hit the fairways of life are you resolute in what God is asking you to do? i.e., Are you spending time in God’s Word?

Are you playing with integrity? Are you playing by the rules? By that I am asking if the fruit of your life is revealing that your identity is in Christ? In your work? In your life? And by all means in your household? How are you doing as a spiritual leader over your household? As a husband? As a father? When was the last time that you read scripture over your wife? When was the last time you read scripture over your wife? No, that wasn’t a typo – but a question worth answering. How about the last time you prayed with her? Over her?

Right now you may be squirming as much as I am as I write these words, I know I have failed miserably but that does not excuse future failure. Are you indeed acting as the spiritual covering whom God has called you to be? Do your children see you walking in a manner worthy of your calling in Christ? (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Maybe part of this is affected by your playing partners; are you hanging with people who are building you up in the faith?

The year is still relatively fresh, and rather than exercise programs, vain goals of achievement, or other superfluous resolutions, may I suggest that the greatest legacy and investment is the one under your roof? What’s happened is in the past; get back in the game and give it your all. We can do better. My heart is that we would finish the back nine, and the entire round in stellar fashion.

Keep in mind that life moves fast and some of us may be closer to the “clubhouse” than we think.

 Post a good score!

“So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church” (Ephesians 5:28-29).