“Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5(NIV)”

Several years ago I received a surprise subscription to a Boy Scouts magazine. One of the neighbor’s kids had stopped by the house selling magazine subscriptions as a fundraiser. I didn’t purchase a magazine, but I did give him a donation. Shortly after that the scouting magazine began arriving. At least my grandson’s enjoyed reading them.

Issues “Golf” magazine began arriving in my mail box two months ago. When the first issue arrived, I thought the postman must have placed a neighbor’s mail in my box in error. I checked the address on the cover to see who it belonged to. It was addressed to me. Strange. I didn’t subscribe to it. The golfing magazine had me puzzled. My next thought was perhaps the little scout sent another magazine subscription on my behalf to earn more points for himself. Couldn’t be though, could it? His family has moved. No other children have knocked at my door selling magazines since.

I wouldn’t mind receiving the magazines . . . if I played golf. I used to play carpet golf on dates in my teens. I have played a few rounds of it recently with my grandchildren. I’ve only ever played one real game of golf in my whole life, and that was only a nine-hole course. That was about six years ago down in Atlanta, Ga. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it and actually made par using rented clubs. The downside of the game was I had to carry my clubs up and down hills. I left with a huge bruise on my shoulder.

I’ll flip through the golf magazines to see what’s going on in the realm of golf. It helps when making conversation with friends who are avid golfers. The January 2016 issue had one article that caught my eye. (Yes, 2016. The issue arrived last week. I just got around to opening it up last night.) The article, “At Your Service” on page 33, gave a salute to the unsung heroes who make the golfing tours possible. It gave a “Thank You” to the superintendents who see to it that the courses are ready for play; to the thousands of volunteers that get to be marshal on the 18th hole, or direct traffic in hot dusty parking lots; those directing pedestrian traffic at ticket booths. The list could go on.

It reminded me of the time when I worked in marketing for one of the local hospitals. Each year the hospital would host a golf tournament for the physicians on staff. It was the marketing department’s task to organize it and see to it that the day’s event went off without a hitch. We arrived at dawn to assure everything was set up before tee-time at 8am. We handed out mulligans and gift bags. My co-worker drove golf carts with snacks and beverages and boxed lunches across the golf course to each team. I stood out in the sun all day walking to different holes, carrying video and camera equipment to capture each team on film. As soon as the last team finished play, we hurried to the club house to assure dinner would be served on time and the evening’s entertainment was ready. When the doctors and spouses arrived for dinner, they would find us still in our khaki’s trying to blend into the background as we attempted to make evening festivities run like clockwork. I’d spend most of the evening sitting on the floor behind the sound and video controls. The other support staff would flit between the kitchen, or pass out trophies that were awarded to the day’s best players. Finally, around 11pm, the admin support and marketing staff could eat, then pack up all the gear and go home. All I got for the day was a September sunburn on my nose.

Another article, on page 30 of the magazine, is titled, “Ask the Rules Guy.” This section answers golfing questions submitted by readers. I liked the little fly out at the end.  It says, “Got Rules Questions?” then directs where to submit questions, and closes with, “Until then play by the rules!”

The evangelist Billy Graham was once quoted as saying, “There’s no game which opens a man’s personal life like golf. It illustrates an individual’s honesty, integrity, intelligence, and character. Golf demands control of temper, concentration, and integrity. You can tell a lot about a person by playing a round of golf with him. In golf, you cope with the same troubles as you do in life.”

Hmmm… I find the Bible has excellent rules for life . . . and a coach that is always ready to help.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes I don’t take the time to listen for your whisperings of grace. Thank you for speaking to me through something as simple as a sports magazine, and for reminding me that how I live on life’s playing field is a reflection of who I am and who you are. Help me to be a good reflection of you. In Christ’s name. Amen.

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