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Golf, God and Free Will

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

I’m horrible at golf.

I’m horrible, despite the fact that I took 12 private lessons from a golf pro when I first started so I could learn to play the correct way.

Even though I didn’t have any preexisting bad habits that the coach had to break, his best efforts only improved my game enough to ensure that I’ll continue trying to play and practice until I can’t swing a club.

Despite my horrible golfing ability, I still enjoy playing.

One of the interesting things about golf is that the “handicap” scoring system allows dreadful players like me to play proficient golfers on a somewhat equalized footing so that we can both enjoy the game – despite my horrific inability. Good amateur golfers have a low handicap in the single digits or zero, while lesser golfers  have high handicap scores in the double digits.

Then there are golfers like me (in the loosest definition of the term golfer) who need slide rules and scientific calculators to determine a reasonable handicap.

However, by virtue of my career in corporate public relations, I’ve had the chance to showcase my pathetic play at many charity golf events along side of professional golfers.

Every time I’m on a golf course I have complete freedom to control every aspect of my game: my grip on the club handle; the type of ball I use;  the height of the tee; the club I want to select; my stance; head position; the strength and speed of my swing; my estimation of the distance to the green; the direction I’ll try to aim the ball; whether or not I wear sunglasses…plus hundreds of other decisions during a round.

Bottom line, I am in complete control, fully exercising my free will.

However, when I’ve played against professional golfers or amateur golfers with a very low handicap – the reality is that   the outcome is already determined before I step on the first hole.

No matter what I choose to do of my own free will on the course my loss is predestined and the victory of the pro is assured.

This poorly conceived metaphor for the game of golf makes we wonder if there isn’t a similar correlation to the “game of life” and God.

God gives us the ability to oppose His will and freely rebel at any moment in this life, yet my free will and choices don’t affect His ultimate designs. God wins in the end – just like the pro wins every time on the course despite my best efforts, actions and choices.

This forces me to look at the tragedies and triumphs in my life differently. The bad things such as loss, failure, death, illness and addictions can be offered to Him to redeem and renew – since He “…makes all things new…” toward His ultimate purpose. While the good things such as my family, health, abilities and material blessings must yield to His fait accompli designs.

The parallal of this truth on the golf course and my course in life is striking.

It seems that all my freedoms, decisions, failings, successes and actions – regardless of what they are – all work towards His plan. As odd as it sounds, I’m comforted by that.

Question: How do destiny and free will intersect in your life?

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  1. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

  2. Love this analogy, Tor. I also believe that the thought is comforting. :)

    • Thanks Beeg! BTW, I saw that Bill lost 5 lbs (or something like that) eating only oatmeal cookies as part of the Yarger Challenge. Are taking part as well??? Just curious…

  3. With you on finding comfort in God’s control. My mom once told me she believed in the sovereignty of God AND the responsibility of man. I always liked that.

    • That’s a great way to say it Bry – guess I could have written the post in about 440 fewer words. BTW, I loved the KTC promos. The one with all of you talking at once was inspired genius! Thanks for the comment!

  4. I’m thankful that God leveled the playing field for sinners by giving us His Son. But He gave us the free will to decide if we wanted to take that free gift.

  5. It is comforting for sure. I’m so glad my life is not simply up to me. Rom 8:28

  6. While I am not an aficionado of golf (although I did learn to erase my handicap), I loved your analogy to life. But, I think we can take it one step further. It is our job to insure- whatever OUR handicap may be- to alter (eradicate) the handicap of others, to they have the opportunity to play through the hole, regardless of our future actions.

  7. So you know you opened up a HUGE can of worms by writing about free will and then saying that God is in complete control and your choices don’t override His will. Which is it, my friend? LOLOL!! Wow…you took on some heavy lifting with this one, buddy…and I promise not to go into it here on your article…but you covered the very topic I am grappling with right now in life – the fallacy of free will in the church.

    I am falling in love with your blog and absolutely HAVE to share it with my pastor. Is that alright with you?

    LOVE this article. I want more!!! ♥

    • I appreciate the comment Christi. I truly believe it’s a blend of our free will and God’s sovereignty. Our free will can trump God – for instance, the Bible says that “…God wants that none should perish…” yet people perish in their sin everyday because they willingly refuse Him. We’re absolutely free to reject Him ourselves if we so choose – at our own risk.

      However, when we do choose to follow Him – even if we follow imperfectly via our own free will choices (e.g. King David and Bathsheba; Jacob and his deceptions; Samson and his whorish conduct…etc.) God can still redeem those choices toward his perfect purpose.

  8. It’s not odd at all, Tor. I’ve been trying to explain this in simpler terms to my 9 year old. Baseball happens to be his adversary at the moment :)

    Awesome post! Cheers to your spiritual health–

  9. Luke Cheng says:

    This post was comforting to me. It really is a testimony to the sovereignty of God and how He is in complete control over everything regardless of our circumstances. Even when we goof up, God’s ultimate will will always be accomplished. He has graciously allowed us to play a part in His great sovereignty to partner with Him in His redemption of the world. The big question for all of us is if we are willing to join Him in His plan. After all, He is sovereign and victorious.

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