One day a few weeks ago, while out enjoying the fresh air and getting some physical exercise (playing golf), something interesting happened on the fifth hole.
It all started with a fine T-shot. It was long; it was straight; and it was on target. Did I mention it was long? Well, unfortunately, it was too long and went past the green. At least, it wasn’t in the water, and as golfers are fond of saying, it’s just a chip and a putt from there.
However, my optimism vanished as soon as I hit the second shot. Instead of ending up on the green, the ball went sideways. Now I was laying two; it would take another shot to get to the green, and, at least, one putt once I got there. Instead of the par, I had been hoping for; it looked as if I was going to have to settle for a bogey, maybe even a double bogey. Bah, humbug!
My third shot was outstanding. I was hoping to get close to the pin, leaving me an easy putt for bogey. To my surprise and amazement, the ball went in, and I got to mark a par on my scorecard.
I hoisted the bag onto my shoulder and started walking to the next tee box. It occurred to me; things frequently don’t go as we have planned them. We make mistakes and are prone to taking the wrong path. But a mistake doesn’t have to mean that the game is over, or even that we are lost beyond finding.
Take Moses for example. He was raised as the son the Pharaoh and was among the elite in Egypt. Then one day he saw and Egyptian guard beating one of the Hebrews. He did what he thought was right, stepped in, and tried to stop the man. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan, and the Egyptian guard was killed. Pharaoh expelled him from Egypt, which was certainly not how Moses had expected things to turn out. And yet, years later he would return and lead God’s people out of bondage.
Peter is perhaps an even better example. He was among the first picked to be a disciple and is featured in many of the stories about Jesus and his disciples. Peter was enthusiastic, was often the first to volunteer, and, unfortunately, got it wrong much of the time.
On the night that Jesus was arrested, Peter had proclaimed his unfailing loyalty to Jesus. These events are recorded in all four of the Gospels. Hear Peter’s words as they are recorded in Mark 14:31, “But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the others said the same.”
Before the sun rose the next morning, Peter had denied knowing Jesus not once but three times.
Peter had failed so many times and in so many ways, and yet Jesus not only forgave him, he declared that Peter was the rock upon which he would build his church, a church that would endure forever.
Mistakes happen, things don’t always go as we planned. When that happens to you, just keep your head down and keep going, and allow God to guide you into the future.
John R. Fowler is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Prosper.