I loved writing this piece. If you take the time to read this, it will bless you. Not because it’s about golf, but because there are so many great spiritual lessons to be learned from golf that Jesus could have preached about it. In golf we can learn about salvation, sin, direction from Christ, trials, Grace, taking up your cross, and crucifying our flesh. Who knew golf could be such a spiritual experience?
When a golf ball is hit, the impact, which lasts less than a millisecond, determines the ball’s velocity, launch angle and spin rate, all of which influence its trajectory, and distance.
Let’s look at the physics of a golf ball’s flight, and apply spiritual values and principles, to those physics.
A golf ball moving through the air experiences two major aerodynamic forces, one of which is lift. Lift is the force that directly opposes the weight of the ball and carries it through the air.
Just like the lift on a golf ball, salvation is the lift in a Christian’s life that gives us the ability to fly high. Sin is like gravity which wants to hold us down. Just like it is when you hit a golf ball, once the force and impact of the Cross is applied in our lives, lift is created, and we find ourselves flying through the air, defying the sin we were born into, out distancing it by the redeeming blood of the Lamb.
Because lift is a force, it is a vector quantity. Vector quantity is really a simple phrase it has two characteristics, a magnitude and a direction. That means is has direction, velocity, momentum, and force. In Christ we have direction from His word, and velocity, momentum and force by His Spirit.
God in his omnipotence engineered our spiritual lives like the cover of a golf ball. A believer’s life is not always smooth; there are pits and trials (dimples) along the way. Originally, golf balls were smooth; but golfers noticed that older balls that were beat up with nicks, bumps and slices in the cover seemed to fly farther. Golfers, being golfers, naturally gravitate toward anything that gives them an advantage on the golf course, and the older beat up balls that had been though a lot out-distanced the smooth balls.
Aerodynamicists realized that the nicks and cuts were acting as “turbulators”, they induced turbulence in the layer of air next to the ball, and that layer reduced drag. As the ball was re-engineered over the years, it was discovered that the less smooth the cover was, the further the golf ball could fly. So they started manufacturing them with dimpled covers. And as a result, dimpled balls fly farther than non-dimpled balls. So as a result, the old beat-up balls became standard issue. We read about this issue in James;
James 1:2-4 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing
What James, the half-brother of Jesus is telling us here is that when the work of patience is complete, it will furnish everything we need for our Christian life, and the warfare we endure. He is making us aware that we will endure affliction, and the key to this scripture is praying for the wisdom gained from it that we might a right use of it. And which of us does not want and need wisdom to guide us when we face trials, wisdom in regulating our own spirit, and helping us in our walk with Christ?
When any ball travels through air, it faces resistance in the form of friction and drag. In contrast to the smooth surface, on a dimpled ball the air flows in a turbulent manner when the surface is marked or rough. It produces a separation in the air that a smooth ball doesn’t. The drag is thus, reduced and the ball covers a longer distance.
So it is with life; it takes some rough spots, nicks and cuts in your life to make you go your farthest..Romans 5:3-5 tells us that we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. God allows us to be “dimpled”, that we grow stronger in Him, and as we grow in Him we are able to separate ourselves from things and situations that would drag us down. And as a result we are able to fly higher and cover a longer distance in faith, as we are strengthened and “dimpled” by life’s trials.
As I said there were two aerodynamic forces. The second is backspin. It is also used in driving a golf ball. A well-struck golf shot will result in a large amount of backspin that will carry the ball higher into the air and farther. A back-spinning ball experiences an upward lift force which makes it fly higher and cover a longer distance than a ball without backspin. And what is backspin you ask. Backspin is the ball rotating backwards round and round, to the point on the ball where the impact first launched it. Remember in the beginning, we talked about when a golf ball is first hit, the impact, determines everything about the direction and distance of the ball.
So how is that (backspin) spiritual you ask? This is my favorite part of the whole piece. I love to “backspin” in Jesus. No not backslide, backspin… Paul the Apostle put it this way….
1 Cor.15:31 I affirm, by the boasting in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily”.
Jesus said it like this. Luke 9:23, “If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me”.
Our submission to the cross is a daily experience in which we surrender our lives, and our wills, in order that we might shine forth His Light, and bear lasting fruit for His glory. It’s just like backspin; we take our salvation back to the point where the impact of His love first launched it. If every day we find ourselves at the foot of the cross, (The Cross is His impact on our lives called Grace) where we first received redemption, crucify our old flesh, and deny ourselves, we backspin to the point of that Grace. It is this Grace, at the foot of the cross, the point of impact where we first received Him, that gives us direction, velocity, momentum, and force to go farther and stronger in our walk with Him. Back-spinning to the foot of the cross, daily is a powerful thing, it will carry us higher and farther.
And finally, in order to keep the aerodynamics optimal and simple, the ball just needs to be clean. Thank God for His grace…..
1 John 1:9 ….If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.