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TURNING THE TRAPS INTO TREASURES

August 17th, 2015

This summer has seemed to be a time of preparation for the new season we are about to enter. We are nearing the year of Jubilee, which comes only once every fifty years, when God ‘resets’ many things. I don’t know about you, but I am excited about the future and determined to be ready for whatever God has planned. For sure, I desire to be the best me I can be for such a time as this.

While sitting on a balcony overlooking the lake and the golf course and gazing out on God’s magnificence, I marveled at its incredible beauty in spite of the fallen state of our existence. I found my attention drawn to the interesting placement of the sand bunkers on the golf course below. Although I am not a golfer, I do understand the basics of the game and how the sand traps are strategically located in order to further challenge the golfer on the course. As I gazed over the landscape below, the Lord began to show me how the experiences in my life journey could be compared to a round of golf and in particular, how the sand traps are like the challenges and trials I encounter.

After a really long stretch of not writing, I was delighted that Holy Spirit seemed to be drawing me back to my blog. So, I said yes to the Lord and asked Him to give me a new parable. I must admit, the tasked seemed somewhat daunting because I have seemed to have no new words to write and post for a very long time. I was beginning to believe my blogging season had come to an end. However, my statics report proved that people are still finding and reading my blog.

As I watched the golfer tee off below me, intending to send the golf ball directly toward the flag on the next green, I could see that what appeared to be a simple swing in the correct direction was no easy feat. Somehow that ball seemed to have a way of finding the tall grass or the trees or that sand trap located in a most inconvenient spot. How sweet it would be if the flight of the ball simply headed directly toward its intended target, but that rarely seemed to happen. And so it is with life, it seems. How I would love to head directly toward whatever target is in my sights, but rarely do I accomplish that without some diversion rising up to distract me. Like the golfer I am watching below, rather than enjoying an easy ‘walk in the park,’ instead I find myself battling against frustration and failure while I cup my chin in my hand and try to come up with a strategy to get myself out of one more mess. Eventually the golfer gets that ball out of the sand and back into the fairway, headed back toward its intended target, but in the process, the experience has cost him time and strokes that cannot be recovered. He can only hope he has learned another lesson in the battle of man over golf course. And so it is with life, it seems.

For example, I desperately desire to speak only words of life, words that encourage and uplift others, words that reveal the love I have for the person with whom I am speaking. I ask the Lord to guide my heart, my mind, and the words that come out of my mouth. However, I could not count how many times the opposite occurs and I find myself in the sand trap of misunderstanding, or worse, anger or hurt feelings. Once again I am scrambling to come up with a strategy to get myself out of one more mess. Eventually I get myself back on track, but not without a penalty. I can only hope that I have learned another valuable lesson, and have gotten a better understanding of another precious soul.

Most of our sand trap experiences actually come out of good intentions gone sideways. Just as it is my desire to only speak uplifting words, it is also my desire to allow my actions to be a blessing to others. Unfortunately, sometimes I forget that we do not all think alike. Consequently, I can be prone to act on what I think is the best plan, when the other person sees the situation much differently, and my plan lands me in the sand trap. Once again I am scrambling to come up with a strategy to get myself out of one more mess. Then, like the golfer who has had more than his share of opportunities to learn how to fly the ball out of the sand and back into the fairway, I must once again reassess the situation and determine a Godly method of damage control. Is the sand wet and heavy so it will need a stronger swing of the club, or is it light and fluffy so a softer swing will send the ball upward and out of the bunker. Do I try to explain, or just quietly step away? Is there a way I can correct the situation, or does the other person think I have already done enough? How I back out of the mess I just got myself into could determine the cost of the lesson.

Why, I ask myself, can’t life and human interactions be simpler? I know my heart’s desire is to always walk and talk in holiness and righteousness. However, sometimes the best intentions are not enough to mend a damaged relationship. I suppose the golfer asks why that pesky sand trap needed to be placed in that particular spot. Some golf course designer must have had a good laugh as he laid out the plans to provide golfers a memorable challenge. I know the enemy does his best to distract me from walking out God’s plan for my life, and as part of the devil’s evil plan, he works hard to cause strife and division between me and those I love. I also know that God is able to thwart any and all of the enemy’s schemes, but He does allow some of those sand traps to remain on our path. (I suppose I would be totally shocked to know how many of those evil plans God actually does block!) Because the Word and my personal experiences tell me of God’s great love for me, I can be assured that there is a positive purpose for every sand trap He actually does allow to remain. Just thinking – could the sand traps have a similar result as sand paper?

So what can I do but praise Him and thank Him for His grace and mercy, and also for the sand traps. He shows mercy for my shortcomings and He gives me grace to rise up and accomplish all He has called me to do. I am comforted to know that He will finish what He started in me. He is more than capable of leading me out of the sand traps, of teaching me to overcome any obstacles that stand in the way of my destination – the plan He has set for me.

At the end of the day, I am not able to navigate the sand traps in my own strength. Only as I walk with Jesus, choosing to apply Kingdom concepts to my life, can I overcome and thrive. On a daily basis, I am desperately in need of a Savior at every turn and in every circumstance. But why would I ever want to live any other way? So, if I have ever offended you in word or deed, if you have ever rolled your eyes because of something I just said, or if I have ever frustrated you or messed up your plans, please forgive me and know that I am still a work in progress, leaning on my Lord to lead me out of the sand traps and toward the treasures that await me. Is anybody up for a round of golf on a beautiful day?

 

 

One Response to “TURNING THE TRAPS INTO TREASURES”

  1. Anne Says:

    How lovely to read your writing again! I think everyone who knows you, understands that you always have the best and kindest intentions. and sometimes we need you to shake us up a bit. Jesus ruffled quite a few feathers while He was walking among us and I think this world needs some shaking up! Keep it up!

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