Not everyone is a fan of golf. But generally speaking, there runs a spectrum on which people interact with golf. On one end is the passionate scratch golfer who has the skill and ability to possibly make the professional tour if not in the least, win his/her local club tournament. Then on the other end, you find my wife – a woman who believe the initials PGA stand for Perfect for Going Asleep. It never fails. No matter who is playing or how exciting the tournament, if I turn golf on the tv on a Sunday afternoon, she is asleep in less than ten minutes. I, on the other hand, love the game and am actually thinking right now about the next chance I might be able to play…
Whether a person is a great golf or a beginner, the trajectory of the golf ball is perhaps the most important concern. Yes, it matters which club to use, how hard the ball should be hit, where the golfer lines up his fit, and how well the golfer swings the club. However, all of those things are but influence on the final result – the flight pattern, or trajectory, of the ball in the air. It is the trajectory of the golf ball which determines if the ball will land on the center of the green or fifteen yards short in the water.
Christians should consider their lives in the same way. No matter who you are, you are only given one life to live. Whether you are the most successful businessman in the world (did you know Bezos is building a 10,000 year clock?) or someone the world considers financially insignificant, either way, the Bible teaches all have numbered days. All of our lives are on a daily trajectory. We start at one point, and we are headed in a direction to land at the end of our lives in a place which will either glorify and honor God or will be disappointingly short.
A few important truths to consider about the trajectory of a Christ-follower:
- What you do and say has immeasurable impact on your relationship with Jesus. Back to the golf illustration. It is true that the trajectory of a golf ball is the primary factor on where it lands – on the green or in the bunker. How a golfer stands, how hard he swings the club, if her shoulders are square to the target, all have incredible influence on the flight pattern and ultimate landing place of the golf ball. The same is true of a life that follows Jesus. Time in God’s Word, time in prayer, time in community (church and small groups) are not just religious habits for vain glory. Spiritual disciplines such as these are to function as trajectory-influencing rhythms of your life. Psalm 86 reads, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth, unite my heart to fear your name. I will give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever” (v. 11-12). These verses describe a life which is committed to living in a way that pleases God, daily set on a trajectory to glorify and honor him.
- How you feel and think has immeasurable impact on your relationship with Jesus. Confidence is valuable in all sports; however, perhaps unlike many other sports, golf has a way of rewarding those with confidence (insert Brooks Koepka interviews here). A person’s confidence can certainly be built on past experience but is also fueled by how a person feels or what a person thinks. So, in the game of golf, it is crucial to have a buoyant attitude throughout a round. It’s good not to be too negative emotionally and then begin to believe the truth of your doubts. In a Christian’s walk with Jesus it is incredibly easy to believe the lies of Satan – to believe what you feel is actually what is true. The scriptures remind us we are to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), to consume the words of God (Joshua 1:8), and to build our lives on his promises and commands (Matthew 7). It is easy to let a whispered-lie turn into a roaring-truth which motivates trajectory-altering thought patterns of sin.
- Finally, celebrate a trajectory-changing God. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “And such were some of you…” (1 Corinthians 6:11). The Bible describes God’s great grace and mercy towards us in a nearly countless number of passages. The non-Christian world (and perhaps even you, yourself) wants to believe God is a god who exists to destroy people who sin. That is not loving nor is he kind. He is merciful, gracious, and slow to anger (Psalm 86:15). If you realize the trajectory on which you have set your life is for self-glory, vain conceit, and temporary riches, it is not too late to repent. It is ever-possible to ask the Holy Spirit to change your heart, conform your mind, and be set on a new path of righteousness. And if you are reading this and realize your ultimate trajectory is not eternal life in heaven, it is not too late for you, either. He doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9) but has made it possible for anyone to repent and believe (Romans 10:13).
Maybe you realize the trajectory of your life is set on sin and self. You “hit your shot” each day and hope God blesses the result. You say to yourself, I know he loves me, but then beyond that you don’t give his relationship with you a second thought. You’re convinced you are living a good life because you do good things. Maybe you abuse God’s mercy and grace. Or perhaps you know your life is on a poor trajectory because you are believing lies about how you feel – unworthy, worthless, or without hope. My desire is you will take time today to ask God to show you the daily and long-term trajectory of your life. Ask him to search your heart and allow him to make known to you any ways in which you are on a trajectory to land short of his glory (Psalm 139:23-24). If you recognize this, repent and rejoice. He is faithful and just to forgive (1 John 1:9) and has a rich, wonderful history of restoration.
“He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.”