There is no worse feeling than to put forth effort and expend your resources on your journey only to find, when you reach the end, that it’s all been in vain. Maybe you walked the wrong road. Maybe someone else beat you to the golden egg. Or perhaps you arrived only to find that the door was locked and you couldn’t get in.
Something similar to that happened this past weekend with golf’s British Open. With four holes to go, Adam Scott had a four shot lead. Those of you who play the game know that this is a pretty comfortable lead. All Adam had to do was finish those last four holes with a par–or average score–and he would have walked away with the coveted trophy.
Instead, the world watched as Adam missed a ten foot putt on the last hole that would have sent the tournament into extra holes. One putt to tie. A putt that Adam had made hundreds of times–maybe even thousands–without a stumble. Instead of having his name engraved on a trophy, Adam’s name is now etched in the memory of golf fans as the one who “let it slip away.”
And many of us who choose to follow Christ live with those same kinds of fears. What if God’s love isn’t enough? What if my heart is too ugly for Him to accept me? How can I do enough to earn His grace? I lived with those fears myself when I was a young college student. I knew I was a “good kid.” What I wasn’t so sure of was the question of how I would finish. So I worked harder, did more. I served at my church. Tried to be the best volunteer I could. I accepted God’s pull towards ministry and turned up my efforts to be the best I could so that He would love me.
Then I learned something. God’s love can’t be earned. It’s already sealed. It’s a done deal. And when I accept it…and when you do the same…He etches our names in the one trophy that we all really desire. It’s the one that we long for whether we know it or not. It’s the one that says, “This is my child. I chose Him. I love Him. I died for Him. This child is a trophy of my grace.” When we understand that we were bought with a price, we begin to learn what freedom there is in that statement. Unlike Adam Scott, we don’t have to fear our performances. Our lifestyles…our choices…become, not an act of performance, but an action of gratitude for this amazing gift.
Why am I saying all this? Here’s the truth. Adam choked on Sunday afternoon because Adam played in fear. He became too cautious, too wary. He stopped playing the best game of his life because he was worried about the mistakes he might make. And he made them. You and I can do the same if we start to worry about our failures and mistakes. The alternative is to live life full-force for God. Don’t hold back and don’t live in fear. Know that when the round of life is over, if you have accepted God’s gift of grace and chosen to live for Him, your name is indelibly etched on His heart.
And, if you happen to stumble along the way, get back up with confidence knowing that Jesus doesn’t use an eraser.