A few years ago our church hosted a golf tournament to raise money for our annual Halloween Kid’s Carnival.
What did you expect? We’re a suburban church located within two miles of a Country Club.
The twist was this golf tournament was for EVERYONE.
No skills, golf clubs or etiquette required.
All you needed was to pay the registration fee, which helped fund the Kid’s Carnival.
We held the prestigious event at a local par 3 course in the Kent Valley. It’s a course that attracts people who are learning the game and looking for a safe place to play for the first time.
The longest hole is 162 yards long. The low cost of the course combined with the relative ease of play would certainly make it easier for people to participate… or so we hoped.
The day arrived for the tournament. It was damp Saturday morning with just enough blue sky to convince you better weather was coming.
People turned out as we’d been hoping and our event was sure to make a bit of money for our carnival.
We placed people in teams of four. We arranged seasoned golfers with beginners in an effort to level the playing field.
As the teams headed out for a shotgun start (one team at each hole) excitement was as palpable as the steadily falling rain that soaked the green turf.
It was a perfect October golf Saturday in Seattle.
My team was made up three beginners and me. I’ve played lots of golf, but very little of it well.
So almost from the start I knew winning was out of the question. My goal was to survive. Not swear. And keep my feet dry.
I succeeded in one of my three goals.
It was fun. We were terrible. We laughed a lot.
The one person and can’t keep out of my mind was a sixth grade boy on my team named, “Carson.”
Carson had never golfed before. And I really mean NEVER.
No driving range. No putt-putt. Nothing.
The closest he’d come was playing some Wii Golf at home with his family.
He didn’t know how to hold the golf club, he didn’t know where to stand. He didn’t even really know what flag we were going towards either.
It was hilarious. I’m convinced he missed the ball more than he hit it.
He had a great attitude about it and was happy to be outside for what seemed like the first time in weeks.
As we approached the final hole our team knew we had no chance of winning, well everyone except Carson. He was blissfully unaware of our standing in the tournament. He was hanging with the grown-ups, golfing on a real course for the first time ever and having the time of his life.
Carson’s best shots were his putts. He hit them as far as all his other shots and with much better accuracy.
As we stood at the final tee box we knew we had to make this a special moment for him and we schemed a way to make it possible.
Carson swung with might and ferocity. He also had long hair that blocked his vision pretty regularly. When you add these two factors together he asked the same question after almost every shot, “Where’d it go?”
The ninth and final hole was no different.
“Where’d it go?!” He asked with glee.
“Wow. You’ll see.” We responded.
We all hit our shots then walked up 122 yards to the green.
All the way Carson was searching for his ball. He hadn’t hit one straight or further than 35 yards so he was very confused when he couldn’t find it.
“Keep walking.” We told him confidently.
Approaching the green Carson was now fully panicked. “Where is my ball?!” he asked a little more urgently.
On the green there were three golf balls.
One was 30 feet away. Another about 25 feet and then there was Carson’s…
His ball had somehow managed to stop a foot and half away from the cup.
“Wow!!!” we exclaimed in unison. “Carson, are you hitting a Titleist #3?”
“Maybe?!” he said hoping (though he clearly had no idea).
“This is yours! Great shot.”
The look on his face was priceless. He beamed. He puts arms in the air signifying the great victory that had been won.
“Finish it.” We encouraged him.
He admired his shot for a little while longer before putting it into the cup for a birdie.
He was so happy. He was a real golfer now. He walked off the course a champion.
As you probably guessed Carson did not hit the ball a foot and a half away from the flagstick.
In fact he hit the ball 11 yards to right, but due to his long hair and crazy swing he never even saw it.
He looked in the direction he hoped he would hit it.
We picked it up without his knowledge and placed his ball in perfect position so all he had to do was tap it in.
This is exactly what Jesus did for us at the cross. He noticed our inability to get close to God.
Though we tried to live right and we hoped to do enough good He knew we’d never get there on our own so He intervened.
He placed us exactly where we needed to be. Paul writes about this in the book of Romans and refers to it as, “right standing.”
We’ve been given right standing with God because His love, grace, and kindness.
We’re exactly where we need to be because of him.
On our own, we’re about as successful as Carson. We may swing hard, but there’s no telling where we’ll end up.
But with Jesus we have been placed perfectly.
“Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.” (Romans 8.33, NLT)
There’s reason to be confident today. God loves you and has placed you exactly where you need to be.
Your hard work won’t land you here.
You don’t deserve what you’ve been given.
Embrace your place as loved and cared for. We are his kids and he loves us more than we’ll ever know.
Just tap it in and believe.