“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13, NIV
I stink at golf. I have been told that golf is not supposed to “be fun,” which makes me wonder why so many people have taken up this boring hobby. I would call golf a “sport,” but riding around in a golf cart all day and looking for golf balls in the woods is more like “fellowship” and “hunting” to me.
I golf about once a year. When you are golf-challenged it is the most fun to participate in Scramble tournaments. In a Scramble, everyone on a team hits the ball, but you only take the “best” shot for every stroke. The laws of statistics say that occasionally you will hit a good shot by blind luck, so you usually end up contributing at least one stroke to your team.
I wonder if one of the reasons that people keep going back for more “punishment” on the golf course is because of the occasional good shot. Of course the more that you practice golf, the better your swing becomes. There is something about connecting with that little white ball and seeing it sail high in the air and land on the fairway. The problem is that when I golf that darn ball usually sails right or left and seems to prefer the trees, ponds and sand pits.
Isn’t it interesting that when you are learning how to play golf everyone seems to know how to “fix” your golf swing. This can be frustrating because the swing that “feels” right is usually the one that sends the ball into the woods. One person tells you how far to spread your feet apart, another tells you to keep your head down and the other one keeps reminding you not to kill the ball. The bottom line is that you will never learn how to play golf by watching the pros play on TV, or by reading golf magazines. You have to just do it.
To me, learning how to listen to, and follow the Holy Spirit is kind of like learning how to golf. There are plenty of “teachers” who are happy to tell you all about the Holy Spirit, but there is no substitute for getting alone with the Holy Spirit and the Bible and asking Him to teach you how to listen and follow.
I wonder if the “fear and trembling” part of Philippians 2:12-13 comes into play when you finally decide that you actually mean it when you pray to God and tell him that you are willing to do anything for Him. From my experience, the Holy Spirit often leads me to do things outside of my “comfort zone” like sharing my faith in public, giving of myself until it hurts, loving the unlovable, or admitting my sin to God and others when I really screw things up.
The key part of this verse is that it is God (i.e. the Holy Sprit) who works in us to accomplish His will and purpose. Although it seems like a major sacrifice to live for God instead of yourself, there is nothing better in life than seeing the power of the Spirit of God at work in my life and in the life of those around me. I think of myself as a Big Daddy Driver in the hand of the Master. When you “experience” a perfect swing in the hands of God you will never forget it, and you will delight in being used by the Lord again and again.