Series: Romans 12:2
I heard a story recently about a golf hole professional golfers were struggling with a few years back. I cannot tell you the exact hole, or even the specific PGA event that I’m referencing. What I can tell you is that serves as a fantastic metaphor for a Bible verse that many of my readers know absolutely captivates me: Romans 12:2.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will if God”
The verse above brings bliss to my heart, it tugs at my soul, and encompasses great hope for a future with God more present in my life. Situations and stories continue jolting this verse to my mind. This further affirms my belief in the verse’s power. My faith is so strong in Romans 12:2 that I’m writing a book over the next several months that will relate, in part, to the message I believe Paul was trying to convey in this passage, with a modern twist of course. Speaking of situations, back to that tormenting golf hole…
I assume some of my readers know enough about the game of golf to fully understand what a par 5 golf hole is. For those who don’t, it simply means that a golfer has five shots to get the golf ball in the cup (the hole on the green) from the tee box (where you take your first shot). These holes are typically longer than par 4 holes, and/or have more obstructions in the way (ravines, sand bunkers, water hazards, etc), which limit how far a player can hit each shot, making the hole more challenging than a par 4 or par 3. The story I heard was referencing a Par 5 played one week during a PGA tour event. Commentators were noting how nearly all golfers were planning to lay up to avoid a hazard on their second. Often on tour players reach par 5 holes in two shots (they’re very good), which greatly enhances their chances for a score better than par (birdie -1, or eagle -2). Yet with this particular hole, players were electing to “take their medicine” and accept a much lower chance at a score under par, due to the risk of trying to reach the green in two shots being too dangerous. Nobody wanted to be a hero, and the field (pool of golfers for the event) simply planned to play it safe.
When asked about how he would approach the hole, given what other players had said and done in practice rounds, Tiger Woods had other plans. He was going to swing away with full force on his second shot and play his ball over the hazard. Evidently the traditional shot was nearly impossible to pull off. Once again, I don’t have the details, however imagine a golf green just past a water hazard, with bunkers on each side and trees lined behind, perhaps even the green sloped from front to back. Aka- a hard shot to hit from 250+ yards out and actually get the ball to stay, even if struck perfectly. Yet Tiger noted that instead of laying up and trying to hit the green with a third shot back in the fairway just before the hazard (assuming water), he was going to hit his 3 wood (second longest club in most player’s golf bags) and aim way left of the green. He noted that he didn’t care that his ball would clearly end up in the rough (longer grass); in fact he planned on it. The patch of grass to the left of the green was thick for sure, but he noted it was actually pretty easy to take aim and hit this particular target. He would then have a very short and a simple chip onto the green (for Tiger at least), creating an excellent chance to make a short putt for birdie.
You see, golf courses are lined with tee boxes, fairways and greens. There is a way that each golf course wants golfers to play it. There is the way we learned we should play the game. Keep the shots in the “short grass” and you stay out of trouble. I find it intriguing how the game of golf can be symbolic to a world where we aim to live, feel and think how we “should.” We strive to stay within the lines and play within the confines of the boundaries set by someone else, or by a group of others, who designed the course of life (much like the golf course). The expectation is simple- play the way everyone else does, by following the script or narrative set well before you even step foot onto the first tee box (or in life’s case- well before you were even born).
Tiger chose to expand his view beyond the intended design of that golf hole. He chose to forgo suggested parameters and pave his own way of aiming where no other player would. He chose to go against the grain by playing the way he felt was best for his swing, and for his odds of success. How inspiring. I now look for opportunities when I golf to play differently than “suggested” at each course. I look at each hole with a broader lens, so I intentionally see beyond the narrow scope of “should,” and instead look from a scope of “choice.” After all, just because you’re in the rough, doesn’t mean you can’t get a birdie.
Romans 12:2 speaks to a transformation of mind and forgoing the patterns of this world. I’m fascinated as I think back on all that I have learned- from what to feel, how to act, and what to believe as truth. I realize so much of my thought patterns have been prescribed by other people and organizations. I’ve spent the past few years shedding (with more to come) these unhealthy patterns picked up along my journey of life. Tiger scanned and determined he would blaze a different path on a golf hole, and I too plan to take aim at being different: by being the good kind of crazy. I plan to relearn what it means to truly experience JOY by continuing to shift the trajectory of my mind from world to spiritual. I plan to lean into this transformation Paul references. A transformation I believe can only be accomplished via reading the Bible, prayer, and by allowing the The Holy Spirit to guide me via SURRENDERING. Romans 12:2 will be a focal point of mine for the next several months as I write my upcoming book, which is a vast expansion of a blog post I wrote last year called Burning My Suits. I feel liked I’ve chased so many worldly pursuits and pleasures, yet still haven’t quenched my thirst for true peace and JOY; it’s time to go against the grain. I refuse to allow the course of life to force laying up on a Par 5.
Do you have belief systems that were forced onto you? Are you constantly chasing something that others or an organization held out in front of you like it was some sort of whimsical dream? Do you constantly obtain goals, yet still feel you’re missing something bigger in life? Do you feel like your path was set for you and that your job is simply to stay the course? I don’t believe this is how we are supposed to live. I’m no longer going to be the man the world thinks I should be. I will aim to be the man God designed me to be. The journey will take less conforming, more transforming, while shedding a limited and predetermined belief system. I must go down this path! Care to join?