Finding God's Winning Spirit

Play On

April 7, 2014 | Greg Smith | Sports

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Ten days ago I had total hip replacement surgery done on my left hip. Even as I write this is hard to believe that a young man, like myself, would have to have such an "old man surgery". After all, 62 is not that old (obviously I have some denial issues to work on). Contrary to what my golf group says I did not have a titanium hip replacement to gain 10 yards with my driver – it was degenerative arthritis.

I don't know about you but nothing quite compares to springtime. We all know what our pastor preaches at Easter about spring and the symbolic message of regeneration, resurrection and hope. We sure need this message this year as for us southerners this winter has been a little brutal for our standards and seemed like it lasted for seven months. But now slowly but surely there are signs of life, Dogwood blossoms, budding azaleas, and most importantly a slight tint of green on the fairways – life and beauty returns. Wow, I got a little carried away there.

Anyway, my challenge was going to be maintaining a positive attitude while I limped around this spring watching my buddies play golf. Vegas had 30 to 1 odds that I would either kill myself or someone else out of frustration an/or boredom. The big question was why I didn't schedule the surgery during January and February when it was cold, dank and dark? Good question – no good answer.

This is what God is teaching me presently.

Yesterday I got a call from one of my golf buddies who asked me I would like to ride around with him while he played nine holes. It was 70°, blue skies and all in all a perfect day to play golf. Expecting to be frustrated and haunted by the desire to play myself I was pleasantly surprised that I felt neither. As I looked around at others playing the game I love and spent time with my friend I began to understand how fortunate I really am. How blessed I have been, and will be again, when my hip heals. Ironically I did not feel this urgency to get well and play but somehow wanted to sit and enjoy this moment of perspective.

How many things do we take for granted? How many times have we squeezed the joy, fun and real meaning out of life in pursuit of perfection or some pinnacle experience? I could sit there yesterday and think back of all those days that I played golf  (and played pretty well) yet went home frustrated because of a putt I missed or out of bounds shot I hit.  Yesterday I could see the whole game, the big picture as it came to sport and life. It is a blessing and a privilege to be living in this life and we should live it and, if you will, play it with joy, enthusiasm and thankfulness.

I wrote the book Sports Theology for this exact reason, which was to use sports to demonstrate that by using our God-given gifts we are able to perform at the highest level and live life to its fullest. It is one thing to say it or to write it is quite another when you experience it. It is quite simple but true that we may only appreciate something when it is no longer available. The mature Christian does not have to go through this process – but then again I am still in process. Play on.           

Growing old, ain't for sissies
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